Poems Without Frontiers

Poems in Translation

 This Site  Web

John Donne 1576- 1631

John Donne was born in London to a catholic family at a time of religious persecution but was educated by Jesuits and attended both Oxford and Cambridge Universities although unable to graduate owing to religious exclusions. He subsequently attended law studies but travelled extensively in Europe and attained military experience before becoming Secretary to Sir Thomas Egerton, Keeper of The Great Seal, in 1591. He married Egerton's niece, Anne More, in 1601 against her family's wishes and was consigned to meagre circumstances whilst practicing as a country lawyer.

He became a Member of Parliament in 1602 and subsequently, after relinquishing his Catholicism for Protestantism and being ordained in the Church of England, made rapid progress within the Church under the patronage of the Kings James and Charles.

He wrote numerous satirical and erotic poems later blended with religious overtones as well as many sermons stimulated by the demands of his church career. His poetry became more sombre with age, however, dealing largely with death and religion. He belonged to the metaphysical school in his comparison of unlikely concepts although he suffered critical scrutiny from his successors. He has, nonetheless, regained favourable recognition over the last century.

He died, possibly of cancer, in London in 1631.