A.H. Upham (1877-1945) of the University of Miami wrote a doctoral dissertation for Columbia University on 'The French Influence in English Literature', later published. In it, he sought a prototype of Donne's wit among European writers (The French Influence in English Literature (1908), 1911, pp. 177-85).
[Upham argues that Donne drew more from Du Bartas than from witty poets in Italy or Spain.]
The various forms of wit, which characterize so much of the poetry of the early seventeenth century, may of course have grown up without outside impulse, finding sufficient cause in the somewhat mechnical struggle of a decadent period to find new figurative conceptions that would attract readers by surprise or sweep of imagination. Yet it is unlikely that this problem can be completely solved without reckoning with the encouragement given by numerous foreign or native compositions, already turning more or less in these directions. The Italian lyric poets at the end of the quattrocento had prepared the way for such activity. The work of Du Bartas, either in its original form or in translation, opens a promising field of further investigation in the matter of these outside impulses. Even in the case of John Donne, the great leader in the use of daring figures drawn from the material things of life, there seems ample reason to consider the possible influence of the Semaines. Foreign source-hunting for Donne has not proved especially satisfying. Marino came into the field too late, and his style is less like Donne's, the more one studies it. The Spanish Gongora grew to resemble Donne in extravagant metaphor and torturing obscurity, but these features of his style likewise came too late. Donne carries power and intensity of imagination far beyond that of Serafino and his group. There is a degree of satisfaction in the notion that Donne was Donne, and that his bold and virile imagination seized upon startling conceptions which other men did not dream of. When one considers, however, that practically all the peculiarities of Donne had already appeared in Du Bartas, lacking there only the mastery