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The Renaissance period is a rebirth of the cultured and artistic sprite of the classical era. It began in Italy in the 14th century, but did not come the England till the 19th century. John Donne and John Milton were two great Renaissance poets who incorporated many of the characteristics of the Renaissance into their Poetry. While Donne s A Valediction: Forbidding Mourning displays a central characteristic, a use of conceits; Milton s Paradise Lost has more characteristics of the Renaissance because it shows more Renaissance

features namely, a use of classical models, a use of an exalted literary style and a use of classical allusions.

In A Valediction: Forbidding Mourning Donne uses many conceits, for example; his most famous conceit is of the stiff twin compasses (l:26). He compares the compasses to the souls of the man and the woman. The compass Donne is referring to is the kind someone would use in geometry. The points may be far apart, but they are connected in the center (l:29). The further apart the points are, the more the compasses legs lean toward each other. She stays in one spot while he traces the path around, and as long as she remains firm, he will return to the same spot he started from.

Milton uses a Classical Model, which is the epic, for the structure of his famous poem Paradise Lost. Paradise Lost has many of the elements that define an epic, which are: it is a long, narrative poem; it follows the exploits of a hero or in this case an anti-hero; it involves warfare and the supernatural; it begins in the midst of the action which is in medias res; with earlier crises in the story brought in later by flashback; and it expresses all these elements using an exalted literary style. Proof of his exalted literary style is his long

complex sentences and his use of epic similes. The first 16 lines of this great epic are one sentence. He also uses epic similes to create an image of hell in the readers mind. Milton s vision of hell is, A Dungeon horrible, on all sides round/ As one great Furnace flam’d, yet from those flames/ No light, but rather darkness visible (i:61-3). Milton also uses classical allusions, for example; he refers to Dante s Inferno(iii:9), when he says, hope never comes (i:66). He make reference to Aonian mount which is Mount Helicon, home of the Muses, in Greek mythology. He also refers to Ariosto’s Orlando Furioso(1:2) when saying, Things unattempted yet in prose or rhyme (i:16).

Donne and Milton both display the characteristics of the Renaissance in their poetry. However it could be said that Milton s Paradise Lost is the better example of Renaissance poetry because it shows more of the characteristics and style of the Renaissance.


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