Allusions In John Donne

The next major argument in the world of critical analysis rests in the amount of literary references used in Donne’s work. Some critics pronounce that Donne believed in new ideas and cultivated them, using literary references as models for his own poetry. Some regard that Donne was not only learned, but used science and mythology to make a specific point in his poetry, appealing to a wider range of critical thinkers. Others disagree with both statements, saying that Donne’s success was merely lucky and he held education to little importance, following blindly after the church. Some critics are convinced that John Donne consciously added literary allusions to his work. Caroline Spurgeon states that Donne’s treatment of love is similar to that …show more content…
Beatrice Johnson writes that “an examination of the allusion to Greek mythology in the poetry of Donne makes it clear that he and part in a the all-but-universal interest of the Elizabethans in classical material, and that he uses this material with characteristic independence and originality” (Johnson 1098). Johnson points out 42 allusions to mythology in the Songs and Sonnets. “Always, Donne uses terms of Greek mythology with the skill or adeptness which is amazing. His use shows both an analysis of the meaning of the myth and a synthetic conclusion as to its significance, in his application of it to the particular matter at hand” (1107). For example, Johnson points out the Elizabethan examples of Cupid. Shakespeare calls cupid a fool, not elaborating on the fact that Cupid gains intelligence at his mistress’s eyes. Donne accepts the traditional view of Cupid but he also creates a picture that Cupid is intelligent, staying away from his love (1100). Essentially, Johnson states that Donne was incredibly intelligent in his use of allusions in his poetry. It is also emphasized that Donne was a highly conscious artist in reaction to those who make him “a sort of romantic genius, uncouth and unkempt, who cared nothing for the from of poetry so long as he could unlock his heart with the key, not of the regular sonnet, but of the irregular lyric” (Legouis 11). Douglas Bush also comments on Donne’s uses of mythology: “The whole body of Donne’s work contains much more mythological allusion than one remembers at first, yet his best-known pieces have hardly any…Instead of diffuse Italianate word painting, we have in Donne’s mythology the stamp of his special qualities, wit, realism, ratiocination, learning, concentration of felling and expression,

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