Tag Archives: John Donne

On the KJV’s impact on the English language, post #2–Lynne Long

Rebuilt Globe Theatre, London

Continued from “On the KJV’s impact on the English language, post #1

Lynne Long, Translating the Bible, from the 7th to the 17th Century

Long’s thesis seems to be that when the King James Version came along, there had been a century of dull literary production in English (C S Lewis’s “drab age”), and that the King James Version was itself part of a major literary revival.

During the 1500s, says Long, “Biblical scholarship improved” in the English language, as versions such as Tyndale’s, the Geneva, and the Rheims New Testament emerged. However, up until the last quarter of the century, “creativity in the English language was not so evident.” “Prose written in what has been termed ‘the drab age’ was ‘clumsy, monotonous, garrulous’, C. S. Lewis tells us; ‘all the authors write like elderly men.” (185) But suddenly, with the onset of the 1580s, a literary revival burst upon the English scene. Continue reading

Thanksgiving in the midst of fear: Plague-time poet John Donne still celebrated God’s goodness

With Thanksgiving coming soon and plenty in the world to be worried about and afraid of, these words from John Donne (introduced by me, updated by long-time CT writer Philip Yancey, and posted a few years back on http://www.christianitytoday.com), still speak to me:

[Twenty] Thanksgivings ago in the pages of Christianity Today, Philip Yancey shared a powerful meditation on giving thanks in a time of suffering and fear. Its source was one of Christianity’s most complex and compelling poets: John Donne.

Born in England in 1571, “Jack” Donne spent his youth in dissoluteness and rebelliousness, expressed in witty erotic poetry. Turning at last to Christ, Donne came to see himself as a prodigal saved only by grace.

Through a middle age marked by increasing devotion to Christ—but also by poverty and discouragement—he turned his evident poetic skill to the great themes of love, death, and God’s mercy. Then in 1615 he became an ordained Anglican priest, whereafter he poured his creative energies more into sermons than poems.

During a near-fatal illness in the year 1623, however, Donne turned again to poetry, completing his most famous volume, the Devotions upon Emergent Occasions. Continue reading