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


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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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