The love lyric [Songs and Sonets]

Dayton Haskin

in The Oxford Handbook of John Donne

Published in print February 2011 | ISBN: 9780199218608
Published online September 2012 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks of Literature

The love lyric [Songs and Sonets]

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  • Literature
  • Literary Studies (1500 to 1800)
  • Literary Studies (Poetry and Poets)



Donne's songs and sonnets, commonly known as the love lyrics is the focus of this article. The love lyrics are commonly thought to be short non-narrative poems that, in contexts representing experiences of love and sex, articulate the subjective thoughts and emotions of a single speaker. This definition, emerged relatively recently in the history of thinking about literary kinds. It is not clear that Donne himself thought of these poems as a group. The editors of the Variorum have compiled evidence that these poems entered manuscript circulation one by one at different times, perhaps over a period of more than two decades. Donne's earliest readers necessarily encountered them piecemeal; and these poems would seem to have as good a claim as any of his verses to qualify as the random ‘pieces’ that, ‘had been loosely…scattered in his youth’ and that their author later ‘wisht…had been abortive…’.

Keywords: John Donne; songs; sonnets; Variorum; love lyrics; manuscript

Article.  13303 words. 

Subjects: Literature ; Literary Studies (1500 to 1800) ; Literary Studies (Poetry and Poets)

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