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  • John Donne

    John Donne, who later became a cleric in the Church of England, is considered now to be the preeminent metaphysical poet of his time. He was born in 1572 to a London merchant. Donne's parents were both Catholic at a time when England was deeply divided over matters of religion; Queen Elizabeth persecuted the Catholics and upheld the Church of England established by her father, Henry VIII. The subsequent ruler, James I, tolerated Catholicism, but advised Donne that he would achieve advancement only in the Church of England. Having renounced his Catholic faith, Donne was ordained in the Church of England in 1615. Donne's father died when he was very young, as did several of his brothers and sisters, and his mother remarried twice during his lifetime. Donne was educated at Hart's Hall, Oxford, and Lincoln's Inn; he became prodigiously learned, speaking several languages and writing poems in both English and Latin.