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

You this entireness better may fulfil,’ he wrote, Who have the pattern with you still’ — a sly numerological joke.5 Using the then-popular Latin and Hebrew process of gematria, in which numbers are assigned to letters, my name’, John Donne’, and Anne More’ all add up to sixty-four. It was the kind of coincidence that Donne — always seeking connections between things not obviously connected, always hunting out symmetries and unexpected felicities — would have relished. — location: 1646 ^ref-46280

Humans, he believed, were capable of many things: genius, but also destruction. For knowledge kindles20 calentures [burning zeal] in some,/And is to others icy opium’. — location: 3669 ^ref-41585

Donne was a man so in control of his poetry that he could layer it with ten dozen references; he could write a twelve-line sonnet that would take you a week to read, but he was not in control of his mind: I throw myself down22 in my chamber, and I call in and invite God and his angels thither; and when they are there, I ignore God and his angels for the noise of a fly, for the rattling of a coach, for the whining of a door; I talk on … sometimes I find that I forgot what I was about, but when I began to forget it, I cannot tell. A memory of yesterday’s pleasures, a fear of tomorrow’s dangers, a straw under my knee, a noise in mine ear, a light in mine eye, an any thing, a nothing, a fancy, a chimera in my brain, troubles me in my prayer. — location: 3866 ^ref-42089

The idea resonated through his life: he had written years before to Goodere, Our nature is meteoric26 … we respect (because we partake so) both earth and heaven; for as our bodies glorified shall be capable of spiritual joy, so our souls demerged into those bodies, are allowed to partake earthly pleasure.’ We do wrong if we deliberately bury ourselves’ in dull monastic sadness’. Heaven is expressed by singing, hell by weeping.’ He knew, as Dante did, that there is a special place in hell for those who, when they could laugh, chose instead to sigh. — location: 3899 ^ref-40004

It’s telling that none of the love poems are sonnets: he kept that form for death, his other, permanent love. — location: 4192 ^ref-37167

to your scattered bodies go! — location: 4196 ^ref-58984

The difficulty of Donne’s work had in it a stark moral imperative: pay attention. It was what Donne most demanded of his audience: attention. It was, he knew, the world’s most mercurial resource. The command is in a passage in Donne’s sermon: Now was there ever any man7 seen to sleep in the cart, between Newgate and Tyburn? Between the prison, and the place of execution, does any man sleep? And we sleep all the way; from the womb to the grave we are never thoroughly awake.’ Awake, is Donne’s cry. Attention,8 for Donne, was everything: attention paid to our mortality, and to the precise ways in which beauty cuts through us, attention to the softness of skin and the majesty of hands and feet and mouths. Attention to attention itself, in order to fully appreciate its power: Our creatures9 are our thoughts,’ he wrote, creatures that are born Giants: that reach from East to West, from earth to Heaven, that do not only bestride all the sea and land, but span the sun and firmament at once: my thoughts reach all, comprehend all.’ We exceed ourselves: it’s thus that a human is super-infinite. — location: 4458 ^ref-55771

Most of all, for Donne, our attention is owed to one another. — location: 4467 ^ref-500

In a world so harsh and beautiful, it is from each other that we must find purpose, else there is none to be had: No man is an island,11 entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main; if a clod be washed away by the sea, Europe is the less, as well as if a promontory were, as well as if a manor of thy friend’s or of thine own were; any man’s death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind, and therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee. — location: 4476 ^ref-3162

Up next Delphi Complete Works of Marcel Proust Author: Marcel Proust ASIN: B007R78SSK Reference: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B007R78SSK Kindle link For a long time I used to go to bed early. Poems 1959-2009 Author: Frederick Seidel ASIN: B00C2RXUR4 ISBN: 0374126550 Reference: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B00C2RXUR4 Kindle link MORPHINE What hasn’t happened
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