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Adam Southworth in reply to fizzledizzlee: You have great taste in literature. And you make great points too!
The connection between body and mind was one of Donne's core themes. He seems to believe in a radical difference between them in poems like The Extasie. Nevertheless, he seems all too conscious of himself as body...which no doubt adds to his terror of death. I think the monastic Guigo II struck on something with his idea of an inverse relation between the life of the soul and the life of the body.
I agree, a lot of romance in Donne...much of it physical. For every Good Morrow you have a poem like The Flea. His Love Poems and Holy Sonnets certainly explore the connection between the inner and outer worlds. Perhaps some metaphysical poets were influenced by Dante's belief that human love could guide us to God.
Some metaphysical poets like Traherne and Crashaw are at home in the inner world, whereas Donne's "imperfect Prayers" is almost a confession of failure to keep focus there or draw clear borders between these worlds. He is more like Marlowe in that respect. The world of his poems can be still and contemplative, but perhaps more often a tempest of motion. Sometimes he seems to want God to take him by the throat.
If by romantic you mean the Romantic movement, I expect the maelstrom around him - the tsunami of the Renaissance and Reformation, increased awareness of the ancient world and new worlds around them, the Copernican Revolution, age of exploration and Scientific Revolution - must have been a hurricane. A well-travelled and voracious reader like Donne would have been aware of all of it. I value Donne's intellectual struggle to come to terms with so much at once.
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Adam Southworth in reply to Pilgrim777: I don't follow a specific religion, but I pray and meditate an hour each day. There's so much to learn my beliefs are still not entirely clear to me. I still feel I'm gathering knowledge before what I believe takes final shape. The Bible and the history of Christian thought and Greek philosophers like Plato and Heraclitus have shaped my thought and practice, as have a number of eastern works, especially the Upanishads and Tao Te Ching. I also like a lesser known, more theoretical work called the Samkhya Karika. I haven't read Joseph Campbell, but from a brief search he seems worth a read too, so thanks for another great book recommendation. You've followed my path ahead of me! As an admirer of Indian religions, I would love to visit India at some point. I've been extending my meditation practice for roughly ten years now and thought about meditation retreats for a while. Have you done anything like that?
Pilgrim777: Adam. I am happy to cross paths with you. Forgive my slowness in responding. I am slow in working with Wireclub.
Yes. I have attended a retreat in S Carolina, for purposes of meditation. It was not guided, or disciplined however. Just personal. It was meaningful, and has effected my life since I went there some 50 years ago.
Some have a path that calls for a regimen. Some have a path that is personal, and they have to cut their own way. I am the latter. A great metaphor is the story of the Grail Legend of Parsival, as written by a German Knight Wolfram von Eschenback around the 12th Century. J Cambpell talks about it.
I also find wisdom in the mystical poets. John of the Cross, Kabir, Hafez, Rumi, Kabir, Mira. More recently, T S Eliot in FOUR QUARTETS touches m deepy, though at times he is a difficult read. Oh also Tagore, who wrote in the early 20th Century.
I do think that all souls are climbing the same mountain. Each on their own path. SOme have more detours that others, but over time, they all get there. I think that the Divine, call it what you will, infuses everything.