The writer who could produce any considerable body of writing without imagery from the circumstances of his domestic life and his Immediate environment would be rare if not unique. Obviously we must expect such imagery, while realizing at the same time that its significance is limited--particularly if it is made up mainly of commonplace metaphors or images whose figurative quality can hardly be felt. To convince us that his interest in the circumstances of his daily life was not entirely conventional or casual a writer's images from this source would have to be at once recurrent, studied, peculiar to him, and characterized by a certain amount of imaginative excitement. Donne's work yields a very large number of images from this source but few of them are distinguished by these qualities. Here and there, to be sure, he succeeds in piercing the film of familiarity and revealing in some memorable figure what he has seen behind it, but these, as we shall see, are the exceptions.
Donne's images from the domestic scene may be considered most conveniently in four groups: houses, the household itself, clothes, and food. From the first he draws figures utilizing the various types of buildings, their basic structure and component parts. In these, for example, we get glimpses of this world as an inn to the body,1 the body as an inn to the soul,2 the body after death as a completely deserted house doomed to putrefaction,3 the brain as the soul's bedchamber,4 this world compared with the next as a country house compared with a palace5 or as a bed-