Chapter

John Donne and Bifold Natures

Robert Ellrodt

in Seven Metaphysical Poets

Published in print May 2000 | ISBN: 9780198117384
Published online October 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780191670923 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198117384.003.0012
John Donne and Bifold Natures

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Christians firmly believed in the dogma of the Incarnation, the union of two natures, divine and human, in Christ. The existence of ‘bifold natures’ was a source of paradoxes and poets were expected to take advantage of them in an age addicted to conceits. John Donne, however, is singular in his recurrent insistence on the relations between body and soul and the paradox of the Incarnation. His ‘Paradoxes’ emphasized the dependence of the mind on the body. By a detour apparently unrelated to orthodox theology, Donne seeks to link the bifold nature of man with his own experience of individuality. The natural inclination of Donne's mind inevitably espoused the Christian conception of human nature while setting the seal of his personality upon it. Critics have underscored the pre-eminence of abstraction in the poetry of Donne; yet, abstract words in Donne nearly always define states of mind or of being.

Keywords: John Donne; body; soul; mind; human nature; bifold nature; poetry; Incarnation; abstraction

Chapter.  6818 words. 

Subjects: Literary Studies (Poetry and Poets)

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