Caring to turn back
Overhearing Spenser in Donne
in Spenser and Donne
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This chapter reconsiders the conventional literary-historical relationship between Spenser and Donne – the technical and political conservative on the one hand and the innovative radical on the other – through the lens of form. Specifically, the chapter seeks to overhear Spenser’s influence on the verse forms and satirical strategies of Donne, at once suggesting a less conflictual relationship between their bodies of work, while underlining the experimental aspects of Spenser’s poetry. It begins with a series of intertexts around Metempsychosis, which cumulatively suggest the sustained nature of Donne’s engagement with Spenser. It then makes a detailed comparison between the stanzaic syntax of Metempsychosis and that of The Faerie Queene to clarify the difficult kinship between the two poems on the stanzaic level. The problematizing of the ‘rough’ Donne / ‘smooth’ Spenser binary is the focus of the final section too, which explores the interrelationship between the two as satirists through close comparison of Satire IV with Mother Hubberds Tale.

Spenser and Donne

Thinking poets


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