John Donne used poetry and spellbinding sermons to examine platonic love that transcends the body to a more divine level (Knauss 1: 2). Throughout all of his works, there was a common theme where, "love became an expression of existence (The Metaphysical Poets [Motion Picture])."" Donne's poetry and sermons are a portrayal of his yearning to find a place in the physical world, or rather, a role to play in a society from which he often found himself detached or withdrawn. His "ingenious fusion of wit and seriousness, stress on poetry as speech rather than song, and representation of a shift from classic model toward a more personal style (Jokinen "English Literature-),"" all lead him to become the most outstanding of the English Metaphysical Poets . .
John Donne was born in Bread Street, London, in 1572 to a prominent Roman-Catholic family (Jokinen "English Literature-). Donne was the third child out of a family that would have seven. His father, also John Donne, was a respected and prosperous ironmonger of the Welsh descent (Bloom 11). His mother was Elizabeth Heywood Donne, whose father, appropriately enough, was John Heywood, an English writer of many interludes, whom participated in the development of British Drama before Shakespeare did (Bloom 11-12). .
Young John Donne's grandfather was greatly devoted to the Catholic faith, and unfortunately, Heywood's family, along with all other catholic followers, was subject to discrimination and persecution. After Pope Pius V excommunicated Queen Elizabeth I in 1570, his family became so looked down upon and brutally exploited that John Heywood, along with his two sons, left their homeland of England to practice their faith elsewhere (Bloom 12). This solid religious foundation would exhibit itself in John Donne's upbringing and later, would have a large influence on some of his most stimulating poetry and sermons.
At the age of 4, in 1576, Donne's father suddenly died leaving his wife to raise her young children (Jokinen "English Literature-).