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John Donne - Festival Gardens, London, UK
Posted by: Groundspeak Premium Member Master Mariner
N 51° 30.797 W 000° 05.842
30U E 701401 N 5710901
Quick Description: John Donne was an English poet, satirist, lawyer and a cleric in the Church of England being Dean of St Paul's. The bust of Donne is located immediately to the south east of St Paul's Cathedral.
Location: London, United Kingdom
Date Posted: 10/5/2013 10:50:17 AM
Waymark Code: WMJ779
Published By: Groundspeak Premium Member Dorcadion Team
Views: 2

Long Description:

The bust of John Donne was unveiled on 15th June 2012 and the St Paul's Cathedral website tells us:

A statue of John Donne, one of England’s foremost poets and priests, and a Dean of St Paul's, has been unveiled in the newly completed garden to the south of the cathedral.

The bronze bust, by artist Nigel Boonham FRBS, points almost due west but shows Donne turning to face east towards his birthplace on Bread Street, just yards from the cathedral.

The directions of the compass were important to Donne in his metaphysical work: east is the Rising Sun, the Holy Land and Christ, while west is the place of decline and of death.

Underneath the bust is inscribed the Donne text:

Hence is't, that I am carried towards the West,
This day, when my Soul's form bends to the East

The Reverend Canon Mark Oakley, Treasurer of St Paul's, said: "Nigel Boonham's dignified bust of John Donne places the former Dean in the heart of the City that was so dear to him and very close to his places of birth, work and death. The memorial includes words from Donne’s Good Friday, 1613, Riding Westward, considered by some to be one of the finest devotional poems of the Renaissance period, and these poignantly interrogate the directions we take in life and the frightening tendency of human beings to end up living lives which conflict with their soul’s understanding of what is true and good.

"To be challenged with these thoughts in an energetic, busy and too often anonymous City is timely. Our recent study event in St Paul’s on Donne attracted over 1,600 people to attend and clearly showed how people continue to be drawn to his resonance as both poet and preacher. To have the pre-Fire statue of Donne in the cathedral and now a contemporary one outside displays his importance to both church and world in his own times and in ours today."

The new sculpture was commissioned by the City of London, led by Alderman Hall, who wanted to create the first fully public memorial to Donne. It was unveiled by the artist and Professor Peter McCullough, one of the cathedral's Lay Canons.

John Donne (1572-1631)
Renowned both as an extraordinarily sensual poet and a great priest and preacher who coined the phrases ‘No man is an island’ and ‘For whom the bell tolls’, John Donne’s work remains as powerful today as when lived and worked at St Paul’s in the early years of the 17 century. Today, visitors to the cathedral are still reminded of his time at St Paul’s by his imposing statue - the only one to survive, unscathed, from the Great Fire of 1666.

The life-size bust, cast from bronze, sits atop a stone column on which is inscribed:

John / Donne / poet and divine / 1571 - 1631

Around the base of the stone plinth is marked the cardinal points of the compass with and inscription at each point:

North: Dean / St Paul's Cathedral
East: Birthplace / Bread Street
South: Married / Anne More of Losely
West: Reader / Lincoln's Inn

On the back of the bust is an inscription that reads:

City of London
2012
Alderman Robert Hall Patron
Nigel Boonhan FRBS Sculptor
Andre Whittle Lettering

The Poets website carries a biography of Donne:

John Donne was born in 1572 in London, England. He is known as the founder of the Metaphysical Poets, a term created by Samuel Johnson, an eighteenth-century English essayist, poet, and philosopher. The loosely associated group also includes George Herbert, Richard Crashaw, Andrew Marvell, and John Cleveland. The Metaphysical Poets are known for their ability to startle the reader and coax new perspective through paradoxical images, subtle argument, inventive syntax, and imagery from art, philosophy, and religion using an extended metaphor known as a conceit. Donne reached beyond the rational and hierarchical structures of the seventeenth century with his exacting and ingenious conceits, advancing the exploratory spirit of his time.

Donne entered the world during a period of theological and political unrest for both England and France; a Protestant massacre occurred on Saint Bartholomew's day in France; while in England, the Catholics were the persecuted minority. Born into a Roman Catholic family, Donne's personal relationship with religion was tumultuous and passionate, and at the center of much of his poetry. He studied at both Oxford and Cambridge Universities in his early teen years. He did not take a degree at either school, because to do so would have meant subscribing to the Thirty-nine Articles, the doctrine that defined Anglicanism. At age twenty he studied law at Lincoln's Inn. Two years later he succumbed to religious pressure and joined the Anglican Church after his younger brother, convicted for his Catholic loyalties, died in prison. Donne wrote most of his love lyrics, erotic verse, and some sacred poems in the 1590s, creating two major volumes of work: Satires, and Songs and Sonnets.

In 1598, after returning from a two-year naval expedition against Spain, Donne was appointed private secretary to Sir Thomas Egerton. While sitting in Queen Elizabeth's last Parliament in 1601, Donne secretly married Anne More, the sixteen-year-old niece of Lady Egerton. Donne's father-in-law disapproved of the marriage. As punishment, he did not provide a dowry for the couple and had Donne briefly imprisoned.

This left the couple isolated and dependent on friends, relatives, and patrons. Donne suffered social and financial instability in the years following his marriage, exacerbated by the birth of many children. He continued to write and published the Divine Poems in 1607. In Pseudo-Martyr, published in 1610, Donne displayed his extensive knowledge of the laws of the Church and state, arguing that Roman Catholics could support James I without compromising their faith. In 1615, James I pressured him to enter the Anglican Ministry by declaring that Donne could not be employed outside of the Church. He was appointed Royal Chaplain later that year. His wife, aged thirty-three, died in 1617, shortly after giving birth to their twelfth child, a stillborn. The Holy Sonnets are also attributed to this phase of his life.

In 1621, he became dean of Saint Paul's Cathedral. In his later years, Donne's writing reflected his fear of his inevitable death. He wrote his private prayers, Devotions upon Emergent Occasions, during a period of severe illness and published them in 1624. His learned, charismatic, and inventive preaching made him a highly influential presence in London. Best known for his vivacious, compelling style and thorough examination of mortal paradox, John Donne died in London in 1631.

Wikipedia tells us of two phrases coined by Donne that are still in use today:

One of these meditations, Meditation XVII, later became well known for its phrases "No man is an Iland" (often modernised as "No man is an island") and "...for whom the bell tolls".

URL of the statue: [Web Link]

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