Sex, science and spirituality! These were the triad of influences on the poetry of the seventeenth century. Following the golden age of Elizabeth I this century was to be one of great tensions; between Parliament and the Monarchy, Canterbury and Rome, science and religion; a civil war, the beheading of a King, The Republic, The Restoration, and finally, the Glorious Revolution which deposed a King and firmly reasserted the Protestant ascendancy.
The role of a poet could be a dangerous one; Milton of course was imprisoned and threatened with execution whilst others dare not publish in their lifetimes.
This selection of poetry chosen by Steve Patriarca draws on a group of poets commonly called the Metaphysicals or Metaphysical Poets.
Included in the selection is one reading which is not strictly a poem at all but a sermon by John Donne, where Donne uses the characteristics of poetry to make his point about sin and mortality. His images are so striking that they have passed into the common language most of us know the phrase for whom the bell tolls or no man is an island even if we do not know the source.
These poems have immense life and drama; they can be at once humorous and deeply emotional. They can also be great fun. But be warned. They can make you think!