John Donne and the Seventeenth-Century Metaphysical Poets

By Harold Bloom | Go to book overview
Save to active project

JOHN FRECCERO
Donne's Compass Image

In the twelfth chapter of Dante's Vita nuova, Love appears to the poet in the form of an angel and gives himself a mystic definition: "I am as the center of a circle, to which all parts of the circumference stand in equal relation; you, however, are not so." For Dante, as for most thinkers of his time, the spatial and temporal perfection represented by the circle precluded its use as a symbol for anything human. The perfect circularity of the Paradiso was a gift awaiting the man who had been through Hell; it could never be considered a birthright, for perfect circles transcend the human just as the heavens transcend the earth. So great was the gap between perfection and humanity that it could be spanned only by the Incarnation.

Dante and the early Florentine humanists were the last Italians for several centuries to take Love's admonition very seriously. Later thinkers of the quattrocento would not accept any such limitation and with their rhetoric attempted to set man free from the great chain which bound him to the angels above and to the beasts below. By attributing to the human soul an angelic perfection, they attempted to divorce it from its body, which they were prepared to leave to the protective custody of Lorenzo de' Medici. While they claimed for the soul eternity's symbol, the infinite circle, they surrendered to Il Magnifico the more limited space around the Square of the Signoria, thus making of God's circular hieroglyph not only an emblem of man's dignity, but also of his solipsism. This metamorphosis of the circle from the transcendent to the mundane, recently and brilliantly traced by Georges Poulet, was historically coincident, at least in Italy, with the metamorphosis of the human soul from incarnate reality, to angelic

____________________
From ELH 30, no. 4 ( December 1963). © 1963 by The Johns Hopkins University Press.

-11-

Notes for this page

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Project items

Items saved from this book

This book has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this book

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this page

Cited page

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited page

Bookmark this page
John Donne and the Seventeenth-Century Metaphysical Poets
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this book

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

While we understand printed pages are helpful to our users, this limitation is necessary to help protect our publishers' copyrighted material and prevent its unlawful distribution. We are sorry for any inconvenience.
Full screen
/ 274

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.