The effort of reading

Probably the overriding thing with which you have been wrestling in your reading is the sheer difficulty of some of the poems. Richard Lovelace and George Herbert may be easy enough, but John Donne..! You have to remember his poems were written by a very complex thinker describing complex human experiences for his close friends. Many people have had the experience of reading a Donne poem for the first time and having absolutely no idea what it was about! However, a patient step by step approach will help you fit all the pieces together.

The distance of time

The other source of difficulty is the sheer distance in time. Ideas, concepts and values have changed considerably since the time of the Metaphysical poets, some 400 years ago, when the Bible and the Christian religion were an everyday part of people's lives. The only way to overcome this difficulty is to find out something of the age and its ideas and beliefs. Underneath it all, the poets are still human beings, and human emotions and life experiences do remain remarkably constant.

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