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The Eye of the Eagle

John Donne and the Legacy of Ignatius Loyola


Francesca Knox Bugliani

John Donne’s family were committed Catholics. His two uncles were Jesuits. One of them, Jasper Heywood, was the leader of the Jesuit mission in England, while Donne’s mother was a recusant who was forced to leave the country in 1595. In this detailed and historically contextualized study, the author argues that Donne was greatly influenced in his journey from militant Roman Catholicism to ordination in the Church of England by Ignatius of Loyola’s religious ideals and in particular by his Spiritual Exercises.
The book describes the pervasive influence of the Spiritual Exercises on late sixteenth- and early seventeenth-century Catholicism and Protestantism. In this light, it offers a close reading of Donne’s preordination religious poems and prose with constant reference to the sermons. These works are usually read through the tinted lenses of ‘Catholicism’ or ‘Protestantism’ or other religious ‘-isms’. The reading proposed here argues instead that Ignatius’s Spiritual Exercises were for Donne a means to transcend the simplistic and perilous divisions of contemporary Catholicism and Protestantism.


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Chapter Three - Mental Prayer, Discretion and Donne’s Early Religious Poems -69


Chapter Three Mental Prayer, Discretion and Donne’s Early Religious Poems Divorce mee, untie, or break that knot again, Take mee to you, imprison mee, for Except you enthrall me, never shall be free, Nor ever chast, except you ravish me. — John Donne, Divine Meditations From dif ferent points of view and with diverse undertones and inferences Martz, Gardner, and Carey have suggested that Donne was familiar with the Ignatian method of meditation before being ordained.1 To illustrate an Ignatian inf luence, Gardner, Martz and Carey took into consideration 1 Donne, The Divine Poems, ed. Gardner, liv–lv; Carey, John Donne, 36; L.L. Martz, The Poetry of Meditation, 53. On the role of meditation in general in Donne’s reli- gious poems, see Young, Doctrine and Devotion, 81–106; L.L. Martz, ‘The Poetry of Meditation: Searching the Memory’, in J.R. Roberts (ed.), New Perspectives on the Seventeenth-Century English Religious Lyric (London: University of Missouri Press, 1994), 188–9; S. Archer, ‘The Archetypal Journey Motif in Donne’s Divine Poems’, in G.A. Stringer (ed.), New Essays on Donne, Salzburg Studies in English Literature 57 (Salzburg: Institut für Englische Sprache und Literature, Universität Salzburg, 1977), 173–91; Low, Love’s Architecture, 36–81; H. Wilcox, ‘Devotional Writing’, in A. Guibbory (ed.), The Cambridge Companion to John Donne (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2006), 149–66; J.T. Shawcross, ‘The Meditative Path and Personal Poetry’, John Donne Journal. Studies in the Age of Donne 19 (2000), 87–99; H.B. Brooks, ‘“When I would not I change in...

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