Monday, March 31, 2008

John Donne and his shroud

Today according to Australian Eastern Standard Time when this item was posted
1631 English cleric and metaphysical poet, John Donne (b. 1572), died, London, England, possibly of stomach cancer, a short time after having his portrait painted in a funeral shroud (to provide the sculptor of his monument with a design from which to work).

Donne was a Jacobean poet and preacher, representative of the metaphysical poets of the period. Only a few days before his death he gave an address called 'Death's Duel', one of the high points of seventeenth-century English prose. "We have a winding sheet in our mother's womb," he told the congregation, "which grows with us from our conception, and we come into the world wound up in that winding sheet, for we come to seek a grave". He hung the portrait in his chamber as a reminder of the transience of life. Donne died having never published a poem in his lifetime ...

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