chapter  5
13 Pages

'Death's Incessant Motion

John Donne's sense of tormenting contradictions at the heart of

existence — 'to vex me contraries meet in one' (Holy Sonnets, X I X . i )

— and his obsessive, energetic expression of this torment are at once

idiosyncratic and representative. H i s preoccupation with the meta-

physics of death, and his behaviour around his own anticipated death,

has always fascinated his readers. H e preached his most famous

sermon, 'Death's Duel l or, a Consolation to the Soule, against the

D y i n g Life, and Liv ing Death of the Body' , when he was visibly dying.