In the chapter on "Ideas of the Universe" we considered the large group of figures drawn from theories in astronomy and cosmology; we come now to those which seem to issue directly or indirectly from sensory experience of the natural phenomena of the heavens. Here we find Donne drawing imagery from many aspects of the skies, from the sense of the limiting curtain of the firmament, and of the earth as a ball beneath it, from the winds and the clouds, thunder and lightning and rain, from moon and stars and, most of all, from the sun--from the sun and its denial, shadow.
The cosmic point of view, wherein the writer soars until the earth beneath seems but a globe in space, comes but rarely in Donne. Even those images in which he envisions man as a little world, microcosm to that macrocosm which is the universe, are, as we have seen, part of an ancient theory, later integral to the Paracelsian system, and therefore really bookish in origin. Occasionally, however, Donne fits into this traditional parallel, analogies which seem to be drawn from his own reactions to the surrounding world. Thus, if man is a little world, then a sick man is one who "hath these earthquakes in him selfe, nodaine shaking; these lightnings, sodaine flashes; these thunders, sodaine noises; these Eclypses, sodain offuscations,"1 and so on; and in another he finds man a veritable planet, with blood-vessels rivers, sinews veins of mines, muscles hills, bones stone quarries, until the "Aire would be too litle for this Orbe of Man to move in, the