Category Archives: Donne (John)

Peter Wimsey vs. Oklahoma Executions

With Oklahoma resuming its executions yesterday, we need the reminders that Dorothy Sayers and Oscar Wilde give us about holding on to our humanity.

Also posted in Johnson (Samuel), Sayers (Dorothy), Wilde (Oscar) | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Can Donne Help Us Cope with Death?

Meditations on Margaret Edson’s “W;t”–with further reflections on whether Donne’s poetry can help us handle death.

Also posted in Brown (Margaret Wise), Edson (Margaret), Justus (May), Shakespeare (William) | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

The Limitations of Cerebral Teaching

Teaching literature must be more than just a cerebral affair.

Also posted in Edson (Margaret) | Tagged , , , | 3 Comments

A Bright Torch Shines to Show the Way

John Donne’s “Ascension” captures the paradoxes of the resurrection and ascension.

Posted in Donne (John) | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Magnificent Women in the Sick Room

Tolstoy shows us deathbed vigils can spur us to a deeper engagement with life.

Also posted in Eliot (George), Thomas (R. S.), Tolstoy (Leo) | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Poetry Needed to Understand Trinity

John Kennedy advocated poetry to avoid arrogance, which is good advice when it comes to understanding the Trinity.

Posted in Donne (John) | Tagged , , , , | 2 Comments

Jesus Lies Enclosed but Fills All Place

John Donne’s poem on the Nativity shows us a way out of our imprisoned existence.

Posted in Donne (John) | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Art Goes Where Humans Can’t

A dying professor in Gail Godwin’s novel “The Good Husband” turns to John Donne’s “Second Anniversary” to comfort her.

Also posted in Godwin (Gail) | Tagged , , , , | 1 Comment

Using Donne to Defend Same Sex Marriage

John Donne’s impatience in “The Canonization” could be that of same sex couples who want to get married and wonder about all the fuss.

Posted in Donne (John) | Tagged , , | 1 Comment

A Spurned Lover’s Revenge Fantasy

A recent Kinsey study reporting that men prefer cuddling and women prefer sex got me thinking about John Donne’s strange “you’ll be sorry” poem “The Apparition.”

Posted in Donne (John) | Tagged , , | 3 Comments

Wilt Thou Forgive My Sin of Fear?

Donne’s last question is whether God will forgive Donne’s lack of complete faith in Him.

Posted in Donne (John) | Tagged , , , , | 2 Comments

No Man Is an Island (Not Even Revis)

New York Jet Darrelle Revis may be single man island who can shut down any receiver who comes near, but ultimately he must acknowledge, like John Donne, that no man is an island.

Posted in Donne (John) | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment

Donne as an Aid to Teenage Angst

Well, the semester is underway.  Yesterday I began teaching one of my favorite classes, the early British Literature survey (Literature in History I).  Along with Beowulf, Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, the Wife of Bath, Doctor Faustus, Twelfth Night, King Lear, and Paradise Lost, I will be teaching the poetry of John Donne.  I […]

Posted in Donne (John) | Tagged , , , , , , | Comments closed

Wit Won’t Cushion Us against Death

Will John Donne’s “Death Be Not Proud” help one handle the fact that one has cancer? It is significant that the cancer victim and Donne scholar in Margaret Edson’s W;t is rejecting her poet by the end of the play. I’m actually not sure whether this particular poem would help any cancer patient. There’s a […]

Also posted in Edson (Margaret) | Tagged , , , , , | Comments closed

Emily Dickinson’s Deathbed Fly

Okay, here is a second post on poems about small winged pests, written in honor of President Obama’s cool and cold-blooded killing of a fly. When I was a child, I used to enjoy the poem about “the funny old lady who swallowed a fly.” It is one of those repetition poems, with a new […]

Also posted in Dickinson (Emily), Golding (William), Grimm Brothers, Swift (Jonathan) | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | Comments closed

John Donne’s Seductive Flea

Georges de La Tour, Woman Catching a Flea, c. 1638. Oil on canvas. In case you haven’t heard, the news media was buzzing last week over a CBS interview with President Obama where he nailed a fly that was bothering him. I thought I’d have fun in today’s entry and talk about the symbolic use […]

Posted in Donne (John) | Tagged , , , , , , | Comments closed

After Apple-Picking, Then What?

So much of the poetry that comforts us in time of death is infused with images of nature, poems like (in my case) Mary Oliver’s “Lost Children,” Percy Bysshe Shelley’s Adonais, and Sir Gawain and the Green Knight. Perhaps the reason is that, with death, our natural side asserts its primacy in a way that cannot […]

Also posted in Frost (Robert), Shakespeare (William) | Tagged , , , , , | Comments closed


  • Literature is as vital to our lives as food and shelter. Stories and poems help us work through the challenges we face, from everyday irritations to loneliness, heartache, and death. Literature is meant to mix it up with life. This website explores how it does so.

    Please feel free to e-mail me [rrbates (at) smcm (dot) edu]. I would be honored to hear your thoughts and questions about literature.

  • Sign up for weekly newsletter

    Your email will not be shared or sold.
    * = required field

    powered by MailChimp!
  • Twitter Authentication data is incomplete