No poet has been more wilfully contradictory than John Donne, whose
works forge unforgettable connections between extremes of passion
and mental energy. From satire to tender elegy, from sacred
devotion to lust, he conveys an astonishing range of emotions and
poetic moods. Constant in his work, however, is an intensity of
feeling and expression and complexity of argument that is as
evident in religious meditations such as 'Good Friday 1613. Riding
Westward' as it is in secular love poems such as 'The Sun Rising'
or 'The Flea'. 'The intricacy and subtlety of his imagination are
the length and depth of the furrow made by his passion,' wrote
Yeats, pinpointing the unique genius of a poet who combined ardour
and intellect in equal measure.