He thought often of sin, and miserable failure, and suicide. He believed us unique in our capacity to ruin ourselves: Nothing but man,9 of all envenomed things,/Doth work upon itself with inborn sting’. He was a man who walked so often in darkness that it became for him a daily commute. — location: 113 ^ref-37766

His poetry is wildly delighted and captivated by the body — though broken, though doomed to decay — and by the ways in which thinking fast and hard were a sensual joy akin to sex. He kicked aside the Petrarchan traditions of idealised, sanitised desire: he joyfully brought the body to collide with the soul. He wrote: one might almost say10 her body thought.’ — location: 117 ^ref-24494

be thine own palace,12 or the world’s thy jail.’ — location: 124 ^ref-55310

Donne’s imagination offers us a form of body armour. His work is protection against the slipshod and the half-baked, against anti-intellectualism, against those who try to sell you their money-ridden vision of sex and love. He is protection against those who would tell you to narrow yourself, to follow fashion in your mode of thought. — location: 266 ^ref-15902

Dark texts’,22 he wrote to a friend, need notes’ — and it is possible to see his whole body of work as offering us a note on ourselves. — location: 274 ^ref-39864

But for Donne, divergence from the accent and peculiar breaks in form contain the very stamp of what he meant: they were never aimless. The world was harsh and he needed a harsh language. — location: 739 ^ref-55485

Donne did not want to sound like other poets. Human experience exceeds our capacity to either explain or express it: Donne knew it, and so he invented new words and new forms to try. He created new rhythms in poetry: Jonson said that Donne, for not keeping of accent, deserved hanging’. He was an inventor of words, a neologismist. He accounts for the first recorded use in the Oxford English Dictionary of around 340 words in the English language. — location: 766 ^ref-1215

It seemed to clarify his sense of the necessity of seizing control of your own self and own fate. He told a friend in a verse letter in the 1590s: be then thine own home,5 and in thyself dwell.’ — location: 1132 ^ref-63044

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