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Devotions Upon Emergent Occasions and Death's Duel (Paperback)

By: John Donne

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Devotions Upon Emergent Occasions and Death''s Duel, one of the handsome series of Vintage Spiritual Classics, contains a rich collection of extraordinary writings, any one of which would be worth the price of the whole book. Andrew Motion''s clear, accessible, entertaining, and erudite introduction explains the situation of both Devotions Upon Emergent Occasions--written in 1624, when Donne was feeble with a fever that doctors believed might kill him--and Death''s Duel--Donne''s final sermon at St. Paul''s Cathedral, preached only a month before his death at age 59. Also included is Izaak Walton''s The Life of Dr. John Donne, a spry and penetrating biography of the poet, written in 1640. And then there is the meat: both Devotions and Death''s Duel show Donne at his very best--theatrical, humble, faithful, and doubting all at once. This is a book of severe and joyful mortality. Here is a foretaste from Devotions: "Death is in an old man''s door, he appears and tells him so, and death is at a young man''s back, and says nothing.... There is scarce anything that hath not killed somebody; a hair, a feather hath done it; nay, that which is our best antidote against it hath done it; the best cordial hath been deadly poison." --Michael Joseph Gross

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John Donne (1572-1631) is best known as the greatest English metaphysical poet. But there was another dimension to Donne''s life and writing that, if less well known, is no less profound and beautiful.

Born into an aristocratic Catholic family, Donne joined the Church of England at the age of twenty-one out of fear of persecution. At the age of forty-three, he gave up his preoccupations with secular prestige and devoted himself utterly to religion. It was eight years later when, battered with fever, the deaths of his beloved wife, several of his children, and many dear lifelong friends, he composed Devotions upon Emergent Occasions. There is both trauma and great drama in this extended meditation on the meaning of mortality, the possibility of salvation, and the true nature of the passage of eternal life. With a new introduction by poet and biographer Andrew Motion, one of the most revered books of Christian devotion speaks to us again of the higher aspirations of man and the always-present possibility of a relationship with God.

This long out of print edition also contains Donne''s last sermon, "Death''s Duel" as well as the short colorful biography of him written by his contemporary Izaak Walton.

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