Ovidian Spenser, Ovidian Donne
in Spenser and Donne
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Two figures in Ovid’s Metamorphoses, Astraea in the first book and Pythagoras in the last, mark the troubled foundations of Ovid’s cosmos. In their separate ways and with varying degrees of explicitness, these figures make their presence felt in the three poems discussed in this chapter: Edmund Spenser’s Prosopopoeia Or Mother Hubberds Tale, John Donne’s Metempsychosis, and that portion of Spenser’s Faerie Queene known as The Cantos of Mutabilitie. Each of these poems is deeply concerned with questions of moral and physical decay, the instability of species, the subversion of hierarchy, the transmission of poetic form, and poetic reputation. In each, the shadows of Ovid’s Astraea and Pythagoras undermine the dream of ordered progression and suggest a root cause for moral decline.

Spenser and Donne

Thinking poets


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