by Katherine Rundell
The Transformations of John Donne
Sometime religious outsider and social disaster, sometime celebrity preacher and establishment darling, John Donne was incapable of being just one thing. In his myriad lives he was a scholar of law, a sea adventurer, a priest, an MP – and perhaps the greatest love poet in the history of the English language.
Along the way he converted from Catholicism to Protestantism, was imprisoned for marrying a sixteen-year old girl without her father’s consent; struggled to feed a family of ten children; and was often ill and in pain. He was a man who suffered from black surges of misery, yet expressed in his verse many breathtaking impressions of electric joy and love.