Religious and Amorous “Apocalypses” in John Donne’s Metaphysical Imagination

  • Angela Locatelli
Part of the The New Middle Ages book series (TNMA)


This essay examines the poetry of John Donne in the light of its “apocalyptic” dimension, which will be here understood as a philosophical, literary, cultural, and experiential category. It also proposes a method for discerning the apocalyptic as a tone or theme in authors who are not usually classed in the genre. My discussion of “the apocalyptic” will be literary, rather than strictly theological; however, detailed reference to one of Donne’s sermons (on Apoc. 7:2–3) will confirm the unity of his mindset in approaching both the secular and the religious understanding of this subject. His imagination is imbued with apocalyptic fears vis à vis the deep uncertainties concerning traditional hierarchies that were driving the contemporary exploration of new worlds and new forms of knowledge in a still largely uncertain cognitive horizon. The experiences of a new beginning and of an incumbent end, specifically the experience of falling in love and of a moment of religious fervor followed by loss of love or of religious enthusiasm, cast a metaphorically “apocalyptic” light on Donne’s love poems, as well as on his religious poems and sermons.

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Angela Locatelli
    • 1
  1. 1.University of BergamoBergamoItaly

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