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Regarded by many as the greatest of the Metaphysical poets, John Donne (1572-1631) was also among the most intriguing figures of the Elizabethan age. A sensualist who composed erotic and playful love poetry in his youth, he was raised a Catholic but later became one of the most admired Protestant preachers of his time. "The Selected Poems" reflects this wide diversity, and includes his youthful songs and sonnets, epigrams, elegies, letters, satires, and the profoundly moving "Divine Poems" composed towards the end of his life. From joyful poems such as "The Flea", which transforms the image of a louse into something marvellous, to the intimate and intense "Holy Sonnets", Donne breathed new vigour into poetry by drawing lucid and often startling metaphors from the world in which he lived. His poems remain among the most passionate, profound and spiritual in the English language.
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John Donne was born into a Catholic family in 1572. After a conventional education at Hart Hall, Oxford, and Lincoln's Inn, he took part in the Earl of Essex's expedition to the Azores in 1597. He secretly married Anne More in December 1601, and was imprisoned by her father, Sir George, in the Fleet two months later. He was ordained priest in January 1615, and proceeded to a Doctorate of Divinity at Cambridge in April of that year. In 1621 he was made Dean of St. Paul's in London, a post which he held until his death in 1631. He is famous for the sermons he preached in his later years as well as for his poems.

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