John Donne: The Critical Heritage - Vol. 2

By A. J. Smith; Catherine Phillips | Go to book overview

102.

Sir Sidney Colvin

1914

Colvin (1845-1927), lately Keeper of Prints and Drawings at the British Museum, characterized Donne's poetry in his presidential address to the English Association (On Concentration and Suggestion in Poetry, 1915, pp. 16-19).

[Colvin makes Donne the arch-representative of the minority of poets who aim at intellectual concentration rather than expansiveness.]

So much by way of instance and of indication, for what such summary finger-pointing may be worth, concerning those poets, and they are the majority, who use the method of intense and suggestive concentration not continuously but by strokes and flashes, as the occasion or their inspiration bids them. Now for the minority who by principle or instinct pack and condense and concentrate and compress habitually and all the time. They are for the most part the same in whose poetry the element of intellect plays the largest and most restless part along with the elements of imagination and emotion. We have reminded ourselves how at a certain stage of Shakespeare's work the purely intellectual element thrust itself into a predominant place among his other tremendous gifts and faculties, and how it put into the mouths of his characters poetry of a more strenuous concentration, a denser imaginative and intellectual tissue, so to speak, than before. Among some poets of Shakespeare's generation and the next there existed both a passion and a fashion, much stimulated by the study of certain Spanish and Italian models, for intellectual athletics, sometimes of a highly fantastical kind. The most consistent and indefatigable of mental athletes in our Jacobean poetry was-it is needless to say to such an audience as this-John Donne, the Dean of St Paul's. From the range and depth both of his attainments and experiences, and the mingled elements of sensuality, cynicism, and intense brooding piety in his nature, the work of Donne derives a quality unique in our literature. In his hands poetry turned away from many of the pleasant conventions, pastoral, Petrarchan, and allegoric, beloved by Spenser and his followers, to concern itself with the hot and

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John Donne: The Critical Heritage - Vol. 2
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • General Editor's Preface v
  • Contents vii
  • Preface xi
  • Acknowledgements xii
  • Note on the Text xiv
  • Introduction xv
  • 1. - Henry Morley 1
  • 3. - William Minto 3
  • 5. - Alice King 15
  • 9. - Edmund Gosse 24
  • 11. - George Edward Bateman Saintsbury 26
  • 13. - Margaret Woods 31
  • 15. - W.F. Collier 50
  • 17. - Gamaliel Bradford 52
  • 21. - Sir Edmund Kerchever Chambers 70
  • 25. - George Edward Bateman Saintsbury 89
  • 29. - Thomas Bird Mosher 102
  • 31. - Augustus Jessopp 105
  • 32. - Anon., Academy 108
  • 35. - Henry Augustin Beers 115
  • 44. - Francis Thompson 180
  • 46. - Anon., Academy 184
  • 48. - Anon., Nation 187
  • 52. - Anon., Quarterly Review 206
  • 59. - Rudolf Richter 221
  • 69. - Charles Eliot Norton 249
  • 73. - Martin Grove Brumbaugh 254
  • 74. - Charles Crawford 255
  • 76. - Herbert John Clifford Grierson 259
  • 79. - Alfred Horatio Upham 272
  • 83. - Janet Spens 295
  • 84. - Phoebe Anne Beale Sheavyn 302
  • 85. - William Macdonald Sinclair 303
  • 89. - Herbert John Clifford Grierson 317
  • 93. - Evelyn Mary Simpson (Née Spearing) 352
  • 94. - Anon., Nation 353
  • 95. - Felix E. Schelling 356
  • 97. - Rupert Brooke 359
  • 100. - Ernest Percival Rhys 370
  • 102. - Sir Sidney Colvin 390
  • 106. - David Macleane 395
  • 107. - Ezra Pound 396
  • 118. - Logan Pearsall Smith 410
  • 126. - Louise Imogen Guiney 432
  • 128. - Herbert John Clifford Grierson 437
  • 132. - Stuart Petre Brodie Mais 451
  • 134. - Elbert Nevius Sebring Thompson 453
  • 137. - William Butler Yeats 457
  • 138. - Robert Seymour Bridges 458
  • Appendix A. 463
  • Appendix B. 467
  • Appendix C: 474
  • Index 475
  • The Critical Heritage Series 502
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