Synopsis of Twicknam Garden


Possibly Lucy, the Countess of BedfordTwickenham is probably best known these days as the home of English Rugby football. However, in Donne's day, it was a pleasant and fashionable small village a few miles west of London, on the north bank of the River Thames. Twickenham Park was the country house of the Countess of Bedford from 1608-1617. She was also one of the patronesses or sponsors Donne had been courting to help him through the difficult period of his life after his marriage, when his career prospects nosedived.

A complaint?

Twicknam Garden could therefore be seen not so much as a love poem as a complaint that the Countess of Bedford has not welcomed his efforts at securing her patronage. This assumes the ‘she' is the Countess.

A joke?

Or it could be seen as a love play, a joke, where Donne is just playing with the idea of the Countess being his mistress, as a sort of flattery – she was, after all, well into middle age.

In melancholic mood?

On the other hand, the poem could be taken more as a mood poem: although it is springtime, the traditional time for lovers to be happy, Donne is deeply melancholic and with good reason.

Investigating Twicknam Garden
  • Look out for clues as to whether the poem is a ‘joke' or a ‘mood' poem.
    • What sort of clues could you look for?
    • Can you relate to being somewhere where you felt totally at odds with the general mood or the mood you were supposed to feel?
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