He lived intensely, even for a time wherein depth gave the impression to be the hallmark. He sailed the excessive seas, rode via Europe, wore a hat massive sufficient to sail a cat in. He was a person who typically added the super- prefix to phrases that others wouldn’t suppose wanted them: “super-infinite,” “super-miraculous,” “super-eternal,” “super-exaltation,” even “super-dying.”
If the human soul was seen, he believed, it could be bigger than the world itself. “It’s too little to name Man a bit of world; besides God, man is a diminutive to nothing. Man consists of extra items, extra elements, than the world doth, nay, than the world is,” he wrote in “Devotions Upon Emergent Events.” Faucet people, he believed, and so they’d ring with the sound of infinity.
However people, he additionally knew, are distinctive of their capability to damage themselves and each other: “Nothing however man, of all envenomed issues,/Doth work upon itself with inborn stings,” he wrote at age 37 in an elegy for a buddy.
Donne was born right into a Roman Catholic household in a time when the faith was unlawful in England. Certainly one of his great-uncles was arrested in an anti-Catholic raid and executed; one other was locked contained in the Tower of London, the place Donne visited him as a small boy, venturing fearfully in among the many males sentenced to dying. His youthful brother, caught harboring a priest, was locked in a plague-ridden jail, the place he died alone and in agony.
Donne married a younger girl, Anne Extra, clandestinely and hurried by love, which derailed his early profession and obtained him thrown in an ice-cold jail. Even after his launch he and Anne have been typically poor and on the mercy of richer buddies and relations. He knew what it was to be jealous and thwarted and bitter. He misplaced, over the course of his life, six kids. And he misplaced Anne when she was simply 33.
In his life, Donne walked so typically in darkness that it grew to become for him a day by day commute. And as he grew older, he grew drier and harsher, however he at all times insisted determinedly on awe. Donne believed our minds might, with work, be solid into citadels in opposition to the world’s chaos: “be thine personal palace, or the world’s thy jail,” he wrote in a verse letter to his buddy Henry Wotton, once they have been each nonetheless younger males of their 20s.