Donne's Imagery: A Study in Creative Sources

By Milton Allan Rugoff | Go to book overview

XIV
KING, STATE, AND WAR

Throughout his life Donne numbered among his friends and patrons many persons of the noblest rank and most eminent official position in the kingdom. He held intimate correspondence with men like Sir Henry Wotton, did service for officials like Elizabeth's Lord Chancellor, Sir Thomas Egerton, and could even claim an acquaintance with James himself; it must, in fact, be clear to any reader of his biography that he had ample opportunity to observe at fairly close range the ways of sovereigns and courts and the workings of the state. However, although in later years he became the famous Dean of a great Cathedral and Chaplain in Ordinary to the King, he was throughout the first half of his career a needy retainer compelled to spend his days in pathetic attempts to find a place for himself. Among the multiplicity of circumstances which may have determined his attitude, those unfortunate years certainly deserve an important place. It is not too much, I think, to suspect that this ignominious relation to the court up to the time of his ordination had not a little to do with the fact that in his imagery from king and matters of state he draws again and again on the more unsavory circumstances connected with both. Whatever be the reason, tyranny, treason, espionage, and oppression, play a conspicuous part in this group of images.

On two occasions, seeking to characterize the insidiousness of the affliction known as "vapours," he turns for analogy to sedition. Theme vapours, he says, which we con

-151-

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Donne's Imagery: A Study in Creative Sources
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page 5
  • Acknowledgment 7
  • Contents 9
  • Introduction 11
  • I - The Image and Its Significance 13
  • II - The Nature of the Evidence 20
  • III - III 29
  • IV - Medicine and Alchemy 47
  • V - Geometry and the Circle 64
  • VI - Law Courts and Prisons 74
  • VII - Religion and the Bible 83
  • VIII - Myth and Classical Story 96
  • IX 103
  • X - Domestic Life 113
  • XI - Sports and Games 125
  • XIII - Commerce and Coinage 144
  • XIV - King, State, and War 151
  • XV - Metals and Substances 163
  • XVI - Men and Characteristics 169
  • XVIII - The Heavens 195
  • XIX - Rivers and Seas 201
  • XX - Animals--Real and Fabulous 207
  • Conclusion 215
  • XXI - Comparisons and Interpretations 217
  • Appendix - Table of Sources 247
  • Key to Abbreviation Used in References To Donne's Works 249
  • References to Donne's Works 250
  • Index 267
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