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.