1837 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Rev. John Donne

Henry Hallam, in Introduction to the Literature of Europe of the Fifteenth, Sixteenth, and Seventeenth Centuries (1837-39; 1882) 3:248.



Donne is generally esteemed the earliest, as Cowley was afterwards the most conspicuous, model of this [metaphysical] manner. Many instances of it, however, occur in the lighter poetry of the queen's reign. Donne is the most inharmonious of our versifiers, if he can be said to have deserved such a name by lines too rugged to seem metre. Of his earlier poems, many are very licentious; the later are chiefly devout. Few are good for much; the conceits have not even the merit of being intelligible: it would perhaps be difficult to select three passages that we should care to read again.