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Dramatic Quality of Divine Poems – John Donne’s Lyrics

John Donne Intellectual Realist

John Donne has written a large number of lyrics. They are in different forms like songs, sonnets; elegies, and anniversaries. He was born a little late in the Elizabethan age. If he had been born about twenty years earlier, he would have started writing dramas like Shakespeare and Marlowe. Though Donne showed great keenness and interest in theatre Shakespeare had already taken initiative so Donne diverted his Foetid; writing energies; lyrics. As he could not pursue his interest in theatre, he introduced dramatic elements in his lyrical poetry. Basically, he is the first lyricist who had the honor to dramatize the English lyric. (Dramatic qualities of divine poems)

There is a clear difference between lyric and drama. A lyric is a subjective poem, while drama is an objective act. In a drama dialogue between the imagined characters is a necessity. We find in Donne’s lyrics, dialogue as a monologue. We find these dramatic qualities in the opening lines of various lyrics like “A Valediction for Bidding Mourning”:

As virtuous men passe mildly away
And whisper to their souls, to goes
Whilst some of their sad friend’s do say
The breath goes now, and some say, no

Similarly, if we read the canonization, the poet in a monologue addresses his beloved, “For God’s sake hold thy tongue and let me love”.

Donne is quite dramatic as we find him in the above examples. He is quite original in his innovation of poetic rhythm. In this regard, Louis says: “John Donne is perhaps the most singular of English poets. His verse offers examples of everything castigated by classical writers as bad taste and eccentricity, all pushed to such an extreme that the critic’s heads swim, as he condemns”.

Donne introduces the clash of opposite ideas and emotions in his lyrics. For example in the opening stanza, he narrates a certain statement but in the next stanza, he will give a contradictory statement. We find this conflict in “The Flea” in which the beloved wants to kill the flea because it has bitten her. The lover advances his own arguments that she should not kill the flee because it has brought about the union of the blood of the two.

Sudden beginnings, dramatic speeches, colloquial phrases, and rhetoric devices are his main examples. The way, he starts the opening lines, he immediately arrests the attention of the reader. This also signifies his mood and sets the tone and tone of the diction and rhythm.

Moreover, the dramatic atmosphere in his poems differs from poem to poem, along with the variety of moods. He is a poet of his own views especially in the case of women. He is fond of somen and sex. In the undertaking it is quite evident:

If as I have, you also do
Virtue attired in woman see,
And dare love that, and say so too
And forget He and SHe

In another love poem he says:

So, so break off this lamenting kiss,
WHich slicks two souls, and vapours both away

From the above, it can be correctly concluded that Donne’s lyrics and divine poems are quite rich with dramatic elements. In some of them, we find interesting dialogue as well as monologues depicting the variation of his mood, passionate as well as intellectual. (Divine Poems)

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