Poetry: Coleridge – On Donne’s Poetry

With Donne, whose muse on dromedary trots,
Wreathe iron pokers into true-love knots;
Rhyme’s sturdy cripple, fancy’s maze and clue,
Wit’s forge and fire-blast, meaning’s press and screw.

Here we find two brilliant poets wrapped into one poem. This poem is both highly amusing to me and quite intriguing. The more I look at, the more I love it. Coleridge, the leader of the romantic poets, greatly loved the works of John Donne, one of the metaphysical poets. And I think Coleridge captured both of their wit, skill, and style.

Coleridge was a careful and meticulous poet, reworking and perfecting his writing to make it just right. And truly, there is little wonder why he is one of the greats. John Donne, another of the greatest English poets, also was skilled in style and wit. Yet as Coleridge notes, Donne has both an odd and steady style, paving the way for future poets as Coleridge himself did. But Coleridge captures how Donne takes the everyday and even ugly things and makes them into something lovely. He takes seemingly incongruous things and weaves them into a beautiful tapestry. And this poem is both as amusing as it is witty. Coleridge even pokes fun at his rhyming, calling it a regular halting walk. Donne’s wit isn’t straightforward, but a maze or ball of yarn, born from deep study and long suffering.

Donne is one of my favorite poets. And though Coleridge isn’t a top favorite, this poem put him higher on the list for me. His careful study of Donne combined with his own clever artistry created a poetic legacy for them both in this simple poem.

Blessings to you and yours,

~Madelyn Rose Craig

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