No poet an island

“In 1619, shortly before his election as dean of St. Paul’s Cathedral, one of the most distinguished clerics in England sent some of his youthful, and now rather embarrassing, writings to a friend. Included, for instance, was a tract called Biathanatos, which defended suicide. “Publish it not,” the eminent churchman insisted, and yet ‘burn it not.’ As for the notorious love poems, well, manuscript copies of those had been circulating for years. They, he pointed out, had been ‘written by Jack Donne, and not by Dr. Donne.’ ”

For a weekend change of pace, read Pulitzer Prize-winner Michael Dirda’s review of a new biography of John Donne.

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