PN Review Print and Online Poetry Magazine
Most Read... Rebecca WattsThe Cult of the Noble Amateur
(PN Review 239)
Mark FordLetters And So It Goes
Letters from Young Mr Grace
(aka John Ashbery)

(PN Review 239)
Kei Millerthe Fat Black Woman
In Praise of the Fat Black Woman & Volume

(PN Review 241)
Henry Kingon Toby Martinez de las Rivas
(PN Review 244)
Eavan BolandA Lyric Voice at Bay
(PN Review 121)
Vahni CapildeoOn Judging Prizes, & Reading More than Six Really Good Books
(PN Review 237)
Next Issue Beverley Bie Brahic, after Leopardi's 'Broom' Michael Freeman Benefytes and Consolacyons Miles Burrows At Madame Zaza’s and other poems Victoria Kenefick Hunger Strike Hilary Davies Haunted by Christ
Poems Articles Interviews Reports Reviews Contributors
PNR 250 Poetry Archive Banner
Monthly Carcanet Books
PN Review Blog

This article is taken from PN Review 9, Volume 6 Number 1, September - October 1979.

A Study of Donne

'The life of Donne', Campbell remarked in his British Poets, 'is more interesting than his poetry.' That evaluation is given a new meaning by Mr Fausset, who traces throughout Donne's life a conflict between the physical and the spiritual impulses of his nature. In his estimation, the fact that neither as a poet nor as a preacher did Donne permanently resolve these discords into a harmony deprives him of a place among the poets who have achieved the expression of beauty in its purest form.

This view is argued with the idealistic fervour which characterized Mr Fausset's Keats: A Study in Development; but, as he finds himself in antipathy to the realistic strain which is inherent in Donne's character, there is a turbulence in his exposiion and a harshness in much of his comment from which the earlier work was free. The kind of criticism he practises, the estimation of a poet's creative value rather than his literary eminence, is of the highest importance, for as Browning says:-

In the hierarchy of creative minds it is the presence of the highest faculty that gives first rank, in virtue of its kind, not degree; no pretension of a lower nature, whatever the completeness of development or variety of effect, impeding the precedency of the rarer endowment though only in the germ.

The faculty which distinguishes the noblest poets from the interesting majority of writers and artists is the gift of perceiving the ...


Searching, please wait... animated waiting image