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date: 16 May 2021

Abstract and Keywords

This article focuses on the formal verse satire composed by John Donne. In 1620 a young clergyman named John Cave wrote a poem in which he confessed that his own ‘quick brain'd Age’ could scarcely ‘reach’ or even ‘find’ the ‘more pure minde’ in the ‘well plac'd words’ of Donne's formal verse satires. Four centuries later Cave's search continues. Donne's satires remain difficult poems to understand and appreciate. In fact, in our own age, Donne's words hardly seem ‘well plac'd’, and there is no strong consensus about what was in his mind when he wrote them, much less how it might be considered ‘pure’. Satire in its broadest sense is more typically characterized not so much by its subject matter as by the poet's stance or attitude towards that subject matter. This article also traces the influence of classical poets such as Petrarch on the works of John Donne.

Keywords: satire, verse satire, formal verse satire, John Cave, classical poets, John Donne

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