This collection of the love poems and devotional poems of John Donne with an introduction by Dana Gioia offers a provocative perspective on eros and eternity. People have always had trouble relating our spiritual and physical longings. Our bodies often seem more a barrier than a means to our spiritual aspirations. Few people have explored this wrestling between the physical and spiritual better than John Donne, the seventeenth-century poet who poured into a few short words an intensity of feeling and depth of insight that have inspired readers for centuries.
Our guide to Donne is the award-winning poet and critic Dana Gioia (former Chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts), whose introduction to the Reading helps us better understand Donne's thought and life so that we can better understand and enjoy his poetry.
In particular, Gioia addresses the seeming contradictions of the poet, soldier, scholar, and lover who late in life reluctantly became one of the finest preachers of his day. He helps us see the connections between Donne's sometimes scandalous love poetry and his incisive spiritual verse.
What does the erotic have to do with the eternal? How do we reconcile our loves? Donne's life and writings offer provocative perspectives to help spur our own reflection.
Discussion guide included.
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