Eras & Modes in English Poetry

By Josephine Miles | Go to book overview

CHAPTER TWO
THE LANGUAGE OF THE DONNE TRADITION

DONNE's is a good example of what we may call the native predicative mode in English, following Chaucer and Wyatt, and leading to the modern metaphysical, the mode of discursive speech, in which one thinks aloud and argues aloud, assuming the presence of a vocal listener. Different as Donne and Ben Jonson were in many ways, they shared a liking for this manner, which they called masculine in conscious opposition to Spenser's "sweeter" feminine; and perhaps no poet was more successful than they in giving us the art of the language in its most natural early form, which all its particles, monosyllables, clausal constructions, and thoughtfully laborious articulations.

In his book The Donne Tradition George Williamson central question was, "What do we owe to the Donne tradition as an inheritance of genuinely poetic value?" I should like to ask the question again more technically and more narrowly. What do we owe to

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