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ISBN: 9780199539062
John Donne (1572-1631) is perhaps the most important poet of the seventeenth century, and has often been referred to as the founder of the metaphysical genre. His poetry is highly distinctive and individual, adopting a multitude of tones, images, forms, and personae. This collection of Donne's verse includes a wide selection from both his secular and divine poems, including such well-known poems as 'Air and Angels,' 'The Flea,' the 'Holy Sonnets', and 'The Progress of the Soul.' The poems are provided with full Notes and a useful Introduction to Donne's life and poetry. John Donne's love poetry is a magnetic mix of the soul singing, intellectual rigor, and the lascivious prod. Seductions abound, but go hand in hand with metaphors of science, discovery, and conquest: 'License my roving hands, and let them go, / Behind, before, above, between, below. / O my America! my new-found-land, / My kingdom, safeliest when with one man manned ...' In 'The Flea,' the speaker even uses a revolting parasite to persuade his young woman to bed. Since the flea has bitten both of them already, he urges, why should they not commingle on a larger scale? But in one of Donne's trademark reversals, the argument fails when the woman squashes the offending insect. 'The Good Morrow' is a good deal more romantic, opening: 'I wonder by my troth, what thou and I / Did, till we loved?' Lines such as 'And now good morrow to our waking souls, / Which watch not one another out of fear; / For love all love of other sights controls, / And makes one little room an everywhere' have even made the poem a wedding standard. ('The Sun Rising' is another nuptial favorite.) As usual, however, the poet adds a tincture of imperfection to the vision: the persona's excuse (charming but dubious), 'If ever any beauty I did see, / Which I desired, and got, 'twas but a dream of thee.' Though readers might concentrate on the love songs and sonnets, John Carey's edition of the Selected Poetry offers much more, including satires, epigrams, and Donne's brilliant holy sonnets. As rugged, brilliantly contorted, and fraught with feeling as his more diurnal poetry, they are also equally concerned with inconstancy--Donne w