Play-In: John Donne vs. T.S. Eliot

Welcome to the fourth and final Play-In match of Lent Madness 2013. In the previous Play-Ins, Gregory the Great defeated Gregory of Nyssa; Thomas Tallis beat John Merbecke; and Samuel Seabury sent George Berkeley to the showers.

Today we have the Great Poetry Slam between John Donne and T.S. Eliot with the winner heading to the official bracket to face Agnes of Rome in the First Round. The loser will, presumably, sit in solitude and write self-loathing verses of poetry.

With the conclusion of today’s match-up, the 32-saint 2013 Lent Madness bracket will be complete. On Monday morning, we’ll return to Celebrity Blogger Week (which is rapidly turning into Celebrity Blogger Week-and-a-Half).

Don’t forget Lent Madness 2013 officially kicks off on “Ash Thursday,” February 14th, with a First Round match-up between Jonathan Daniels and Macrina the Younger. If you’re looking to organize Lent Madness at your parish, click here for tips on how to do so. If you’d like to know when your favorite saint is set to do battle make sure to check out the Calendar of Match-Ups. And, finally, don’t forget to “like” us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter. See you in Lent!

donne 3John Donne

10. Was the first Anglican hipster. He attended both Oxford and Cambridge and the Lincoln Inn (where lawyers trained in Elizabethan England), and managed not to get any academic degrees. He traveled to Europe, especially Spain, and partied and wrote poetry.  He womanized, danced with ladies in courts all over Europe, lived off the wealth of patrons, and wrote poetry. He became spiritual but not religious…and wrote poetry. His poetry was ground-breaking to literature of the day with its twisted and distorted images and ideas that connected seemingly unrelated things together like a flea and sex. Without Donne, T.S. Eliot would have had no foundation to begin writing his poetry.

9. He eventually fell backwards into a real job by landing a gig as the private secretary to one of the highest officials in the queen’s court. His intelligence and charm opened doors, and he even scored a seat in Elizabeth’s last Parliament. Then he ruined it all for love. Yes, ladies, swoon-like-a-Jane-Austen-novel love. He secretly married Ann More, and her father and John’s employer totally opposed the match (I mean, Donne wasn’t exactly Mr. Elizabethan England Bachelor of the Year). Yet they married. Donne got sacked and landed in prison…along with the priest who married them (for LOVE – remember this!). He was eventually released from prison, and he and Ann had twelve children and were by all accounts happily married until her death.

8. He wrote – let’s just say it – sleazy, erotic, classy poetry that we read in English classed to this day. His poems covered topics like trying to have sex with every girl in sight to exploring his lover’s body as an explorer discovers part of America. And don’t forget The Flea, where he tries to convince his girlfriend to have sex with him. He rarely had these poems published, but allowed them to be widely circulated among his friends and patrons of his poetry. And, we assume, some of his lady friends.

7. And he wrote poems that spoke to the complexities of human nature and faith…that we read in English classes and hear in church sermons to this day. He gave English language the phrase, “No man is an island,”  Hemingway is eternally grateful for Donne’s, “For whom the bell tolls” line, and “Death be not proud,” with its in-your-face elegance, gives fullness to the lines of the Burial Rite: “And even at the grave, we make our song. Alleluia, Alleluia, Alleluia!”

6. He was a satirist, which means he was really snarky, but had huge audiences. In his satirical essays, he called out corrupt government and church practices, absurdities in certain faith beliefs (he was one of the early people to argue suicide was not a mortal sin), bad poets, and pompous courtiers. He blasted those who blindly followed established religious tradition without carefully examining one’s beliefs and questioning. He writes (translated into modern English), “You won’t be saved on the Day of Judgement by saying Harry or Martin told  you to believe this. God wants to know what YOU thought and believed.”

5. King James wanted him to become a priest so badly that he declared to all of England that Donne could not be hired except in the church. Seriously. So he was ordained in 1615 and soon became known as a great preacher in an age of great preachers, in an era of the Anglican church when preaching was a form of spiritual devotion, an intellectual exercise, and dramatic entertainment. I bet no one looked at his iPhone to check the time when Donne was throwing down the Gospel at St. Paul’s Cross.

4. He was eventually named Dean of St. Paul’s, the big time of the big time. He preached his own funeral sermon right before he died. Funeral. Preaching. Owned.

3. Just in case anyone had any ideas about how he should be remembered, he arranged a final portrait of himself not in pompous glory, but in his burial shroud.  Yes, a bit creepy, but he walked the walk and saw the beauty in death. Because guess what? Donne believed with every bit of his soul that the Resurrection wasn’t just a story, but it was Truth. His statue survived the 1666 fire at St. Paul’s and still watches over the place. Just in case any subsequent Deans think they are all that.

2. He wrote this:

Death, be not proud, though some have called thee
Mighty and dreadful, for thou art not so;
For those whom thou think’st thou dost overthrow
Die not, poor Death, nor yet canst thou kill me.
From rest and sleep, which but thy pictures be,
Much pleasure; then from thee much more must flow,
And soonest our best men with thee do go,
Rest of their bones, and soul’s delivery.
Thou art slave to fate, chance, kings, and desperate men,
And dost with poison, war, and sickness dwell,
And poppy or charms can make us sleep well
And better than thy stroke; why swell’s thou then?
One short sleep past, we wake eternally
And death shall be no more; Death, thou shalt die.

1. And this

The Flea

Mark but this flea, and mark in this,
How little that which thou deniest me is;
Me it sucked first, and now sucks thee,
And in this fela our two bloods mingled be;
Thou know’st that this cannot be said
A sin, or shame, or loss of maidenhead,
Yet this enjoys before it woo,
And pampered swells with one blood made of two,
And this, alas, is more than we would do.

Oh stay, three lives in one flea spare,
Where we almost, nay more than married are.
This flea is you and I, and this
Our marriage bed and marriage temple is;
Though parents grudge, and you, we are met,
And cloistered in these living walls of jet.
Though use make you apt to kill me
Let not to that, self-murder added be,
And sacrilege, three sins in killing three.

Cruel and sudden, hast thou since
Purpled thy nail in blood of innocence?
Wherein could this flea guilty be,
Except in that drop which is sucked from thee?
Yet thou triumph’st, and say’st that thou
Find’st not thy self nor me the weaker now;
‘Tis true; then learn how false fears be:
Just so much honor, when thou yield’st to me,
Will waste, as this flea’s death took life from thee.

John Donne was the first Rev. Dirty Sexy Ministry, and Dean of St. Paul’s. And he lived it loud and proud.

Laurie Brock

144px-T_S_Eliot_Simon_FieldhouseT. S. Eliot

10. T.S. Eliot (9/26/1888 – 1/4/1965) was a poet, playwright, literary critic, and editor. Like many of his generation, he was profoundly affected by World War I but he also became a convert to Anglicanism, to the surprise of literary friends and colleagues, resulting in his writing poetry and plays featuring distinctly Christian ideas set alongside themes of desolation and disconnection. He sought to explore traditional Christian themes while using modern forms and rhythms, speaking to and for a generation that had seen devastation like no other before it. The traditional meets the modern in Eliot’s works in which he models the maxim that the church must reinterpret scripture and doctrine for every generation.

9.  Among his poems are “The Love Song of Alfred J. Prufrock,” “The Waste Land,” “The Hollow Men,” “Ash Wednesday,” “Four Quartets,” and “The Journey of the Magi;” most famous among his plays is “Murder in the Cathedral” (the story of the martyrdom of Thomas a Becket at Canterbury written entirely in verse).

8.  He won the Nobel Price in Literature in 1948 for his “outstanding, pioneer contribution to present-day poetry.” Prior to Eliot’s acceptance speech at the Nobel Banquet in Stockholm, Gustaf Hellstrom of the Swedish Academy said of him, “As a poet you have, Mr. Eliot, for decades, exercised a greater influence on your contemporaries and younger fellow writers than perhaps anyone else of our time.”

7.  Eliot’s collection of poems about the psychology and social habits of kitties – Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats –  was the basis for the long running Broadway musical Cats by Andrew Lloyd Webber featuring Skimbleshanks the Railway Cat, Mr. Mistoffelees, Old Deuteronomy, and (Aspara)Gus the Theater Cat, et al. Sadly, the SEC says there are no cat videos at Lent Madness, or I’d link to one.

6. For all you coffee lovers out there, he included this famous line in The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock. “I have measured out my life with coffee spoons….” No doubt into his Lent Madness coffee mug, had he owned one.

5. More seriously, Eliot is considered a “supreme interpreter of mediated experience.” He himself said, “A poet must take as his material his own language as it is actually spoken around him.” A fine example comes from The Wasteland (Part I. Burial of the Dead): “I will show you fear in a handful of dust.”

4. And who among us does not love the ending of the The Journey of the Magi:

“We returned to our places, these
     Kingdoms,
But no longer at ease here, in the old
     dispensation,
With an alien people clutching their
     gods.
I should be glad of another death.”

3.  Eliot considered The Four Quartets to be his best work, and each of the quartets to be better than the one before. Ponder these lines from Four Quartets 4: Little Gidding 

“We only live, only suspire
     Consumed by either fire or fire.
….
We shall not cease from exploration
And the end of all our exploring
Will be to arrive where we started
And know the place for the first time.”

2.  Read again Eliot’s brilliant, sexy, and oft-quoted ending from The Hollow Men:

“Between the desire
And the spasm
Between the potency
And the existence
Between the essence
And the descent
Falls the Shadow
For Thine is the Kingdom

For Thine is
Life is
For Thine is the

This is the way the world ends
This is the way the world ends
This is the way the world ends
Not with a bang but a whimper.”

1.  And finally, heed Eliot’s words from his play Murder in the Cathedral that explain why Sir Anthony Strallan should not marry Lady Edith – I mean, that explain why you should vote for Eliot to join the 2013 Lent Madness bracket of saints:

“Now is my way clear, now is the meaning plain:
Temptation shall not come in this kind again.
The last temptation is the greatest treason:
To do the right deed for the wrong reason.”

Vote!

John Donne vs. T.S. Eliot

  • John Donne (55%, 497 Votes)
  • T.S. Eliot (45%, 405 Votes)

Total Voters: 901

Loading ... Loading ...

 

90 Comments to "Play-In: John Donne vs. T.S. Eliot"

  1. February 2, 2013 - 8:24 am | Permalink

    This is tough because I love and feel connection to them both. However, I fear Laurie more than I fear Penny (actually I don’t fear Penny at all because I don’t know her). Eliot will get over it. Donne – well the first Anglican service I ever attended was at St. Paul’s. I liked it. I led me to the Epis church. So … Donne it is.

    • Laurie's Gravatar Laurie
      February 2, 2013 - 8:39 am | Permalink

      Fear me?!!? Really? Well, if it got Donne a vote…

      • February 2, 2013 - 8:56 am | Permalink

        Fear you? No not really. But I liked the connection to:
        ” I have a sin of fear, that when I have spun
        My last thread, I shall perish on the shore;
        But swear by Thyself, that at my death Thy Son
        Shall shine as he shines now, and heretofore:
        And, having done that, Thou hast done:
        I fear no more.” JD (not Jack Daniels)

        • Laurie's Gravatar Laurie
          February 2, 2013 - 9:03 am | Permalink

          Nice. While I prepared for this, I remember thinking how much more I would have appreciated Donne (and a slew of other Anglican poets and writers) had my college professors talked about Anglicanism!

    • February 2, 2013 - 9:36 am | Permalink

      I’m watching you, Sheldon. :-)

      • February 2, 2013 - 10:25 am | Permalink

        Oh great. Now I’ve Donne it.

    • Virginia Manning's Gravatar Virginia Manning
      February 2, 2013 - 2:17 pm | Permalink

      I can’t make a choice! I love them both…..struggled through writing a major paper on “The Wasteland” in college, had to read Donne aloud to a class in grad school…can NOT chose!

  2. Melanie Barbarito's Gravatar Melanie Barbarito
    February 2, 2013 - 8:32 am | Permalink

    This was absolutely not fair. John Donne is one of my favorites, but I’m pretty partial to Eliot as well. I can see why they’re tied.

  3. Carol's Gravatar Carol
    February 2, 2013 - 8:32 am | Permalink

    Woo hoo! A dead heat – my vote brought them up to exactly 18 votes each, so I’m really interested to see how this one turns out.

  4. Amelia+'s Gravatar Amelia+
    February 2, 2013 - 8:36 am | Permalink

    This was a very difficult choice. I read both. I like both. After a coin toss, Donne won, so all done. (pun intended)

  5. Marguerite's Gravatar Marguerite
    February 2, 2013 - 8:38 am | Permalink

    Magnificent write-ups! Well done CB’s. I’m for Eliot as I believe he faced a sterner (yes that’s a pun) test of his faith, being all modern and everything.

  6. Nancy Baillie Strong's Gravatar Nancy Baillie Strong
    February 2, 2013 - 8:39 am | Permalink

    Not fair! As a writers of verses myself, I owe both a great debt…but I guess I’ll have to vote for JD, as it was the metaphyscial poets (and the early leader) that captured my heart and imagination…and never let go. Blessings on them both…

  7. Emmetri Monica Beane's Gravatar Emmetri Monica Beane
    February 2, 2013 - 8:42 am | Permalink

    I was not happy with this round at all. I could not decide. This one was tough. I finally went with my first choice John Donne but it was a near thing. Both of these men are great poets. Grrrrr . . . The madness has begun. No fair!!!!

  8. Laurie's Gravatar Laurie
    February 2, 2013 - 8:48 am | Permalink

    Yay Penny!! We’re making it hard for people to choose!

    • February 2, 2013 - 9:35 am | Permalink

      Indeed we are! It just wouldn’t be quite as much fun if the choices were Luke or Darth Vader.

  9. Millie Ericson's Gravatar Millie Ericson
    February 2, 2013 - 8:49 am | Permalink

    Not to be catty or anything, but John Donne just seems to be too flashy and full of himself to be in the running. T. S., on the other hand, seems to possess some true humility and besides, anyone whose poetry gets turned into a musical by Sir Andrew definitely deserved to win a place on the Big Bracket!

    • February 2, 2013 - 9:03 am | Permalink

      Your comment pushed me over the edge Millie. Thank you for breaking the internal deadlock.

    • Sue's Gravatar Sue
      February 3, 2013 - 7:16 am | Permalink

      Well put!!!!!! That’s how I felt too.

  10. February 2, 2013 - 8:53 am | Permalink

    Had to go with Eliot . . . and not only for the cats!

  11. Millie Ericson's Gravatar Millie Ericson
    February 2, 2013 - 9:16 am | Permalink

    Julie, glad I helped your decision. Go T. S.

  12. Tim's Gravatar Tim
    February 2, 2013 - 9:18 am | Permalink

    Eliot, the Cat’s meow! Where are the feline friendly voters today?

  13. Laurie Atwater's Gravatar Laurie Atwater
    February 2, 2013 - 9:23 am | Permalink

    I do wear my trousers rolled. No contest.

  14. Linda T.'s Gravatar Linda T.
    February 2, 2013 - 9:37 am | Permalink

    This did it for me: “God wants to know what YOU thought and believed.” Donne it is.

    • Laurie's Gravatar Laurie
      February 2, 2013 - 10:28 am | Permalink

      Yes! Donne was a trouble-maker because he thought everyone had a right to question doctrine. And party.

  15. Peg's Gravatar Peg
    February 2, 2013 - 9:43 am | Permalink

    Really, Eliot had me at the Magi, and then today when Penny referenced poor old peach-declining Sir Anthony Strallan, that clinched it for T.S. Marguerite and Millie make excellent points about the tougher row hoed by a modern poet in a shell-shocked age. Today’s contest presents a tough choice, which in the end I have left un-Donne.

  16. Paul Rosbolt's Gravatar Paul Rosbolt
    February 2, 2013 - 10:11 am | Permalink

    Tough choice; great write-ups. Had to go with T.S. Not with a bang but a whimper one of my favorite lines.

  17. February 2, 2013 - 10:11 am | Permalink

    The Archbishop-Commentators were *very* insistence that I post this video here.

    • Aleathia (Dolores) Nicholson's Gravatar Aleathia (Dolores) Nicholson
      February 2, 2013 - 1:22 pm | Permalink

      Gotta work on those accents, guys! It’s too early in the am…not even noon yet! Had I not enjoyed some real coffee, it would have been a bit much. Well, tallyho and whatever.

  18. Jane Knight's Gravatar Jane Knight
    February 2, 2013 - 10:38 am | Permalink

    The program for a concert held last night at our parish mentioned that Donne’s poetry has been set to music by countless composers. (E.g. Hymns 140-141, which Sheldon quoted above, and 322). The concert program also stated that, except for “Cats”, Eliot’s poetry may NOT be set to music because his estate forbids it. So, for this chorister, the vote was obvious.

    • February 2, 2013 - 1:07 pm | Permalink

      I admit that Eliot’s estate’s decision was a wise one. Donne’s oeuvre can survive bad music; in Eliot’s case it would be criminal. Imagine folks getting up to sing “A cold coming we had of it – tra la la, tra-la” and … “re-fraaaaaaaaaaaaaaaac-to-ry”.

  19. February 2, 2013 - 10:42 am | Permalink

    Preaching as dramatic entertainment – right up my alley. You guys don’t make it easy, but I’ve throne in my lot with Tom.

  20. Marguerite's Gravatar Marguerite
    February 2, 2013 - 10:47 am | Permalink

    Regardless of today’s results, my Lenten reading is going to be Eliot. He passes the Emily Dickinson test “if it takes the top of my head off, it’s poetry”.

    • Jennifer's Gravatar Jennifer
      February 2, 2013 - 11:01 am | Permalink

      Exactly. Well said.

  21. Tarheel's Gravatar Tarheel
    February 2, 2013 - 11:06 am | Permalink

    Anyone who encourages snark and questioning has my vote. I have always wondered, did King James identify Donne as a potential troublemaker who needed watching when he basically forced Donne into the Church? Regardless Donne has my vote–fini.

  22. February 2, 2013 - 11:16 am | Permalink

    T.S. Eliot for me, both for the modernism of The Waste Land and for the appreciation of Little Gidding, “a place where prayer has been valid.”

  23. Jennifer's Gravatar Jennifer
    February 2, 2013 - 11:30 am | Permalink

    Powerful write-up from Laurie in Donne’s corner but really — this IS Lent Madness after all, not Party Hearty Hook-up Madness. This should ultimately be about a different sort of Passion. Also I’m completely biased – Eliot’s “Journey of the Magi” is my 23rd psalm. If you don’t know the poem I urge you to find a copy of it online and read the whole thing. Wrestle with its uneasiness, what it understands and what it doesn’t understand, with its rich imagery and the stories and echoes of stories it conjures….
    ‘…three trees on the low sky.’
    El-i-ot! El-i-ot!

  24. February 2, 2013 - 11:30 am | Permalink

    How can we forget Donne’s snarky double-pun found in the words of Hymn 140, working in his wife and himself:

    “When thou hast done, thou hast not done for I have more.”

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cyFvyRZbsLI

    However, I had to go with T. S. Elliot. You see, Elliot’s and my birth certificate (that is, assuming he had one) would share a common trait: “none” for county. Yes, Mr. Elliot and I are originally from St. Louis, Missouri. (St. Louis seperated from St. Louis County in about 1875 and hasn’t been able to hold an honest election since.)

    “It is self-evident that St. Louis affected me more deeply than any other environment has ever done. I feel that there is something in having passed one’s childhood beside the big river, which is incommunicable to those people who have not. I consider myself fortunate to have been born here, rather than in Boston, or New York, or London.” (T. S. Elliot, quoted in the St. Louis Post Dispatch)

    Christ Church Cathedral in St. Louis remodelled in the 1960s (+5 for the organ, -10 for the very uncomfortable movable seating in the nave). One of the purposes of the remodel was to allow for things like stage productions. The first stage production was “Murder in the Cathedral.” How appropriate!

    I’m voted for my fellow St. Louis Homeboy.

    • February 2, 2013 - 11:42 am | Permalink

      Argh. Writing at this time on a Saturday morning is full of danger. Why can’t I edit that for the two obvious mistakes. Eliot and the last sentence (which I mis-recast just before posting).

    • Jim's Gravatar Jim
      February 2, 2013 - 7:06 pm | Permalink

      Bob,

      Having recently retired to Appalachia from Ohio I have discovered that honest elections here rarely if ever happen. A friend of mine who is with the West Virginia State Police told me recently that the most recent election in his county was the cleanest in history, only 6 dead people voted. Since I am about to go 0 for 4 in the play in rounds I am thinking about improving my odds in the future rounds by checking with the locals and seeing if “Appalachian Voting” will escape the ever vigilant SEC and improve my winning percentages.

  25. Harlie Youngblood's Gravatar Harlie Youngblood
    February 2, 2013 - 11:49 am | Permalink

    I voted for John, but it was a tough choice. Luv ‘em both!
    Merry Candlemas!

  26. Rich's Gravatar Rich
    February 2, 2013 - 12:19 pm | Permalink

    Had to go with with Rev Donne, called because of his life and not inspite of it.

  27. The Rev. Albert Krueger's Gravatar The Rev. Albert Krueger
    February 2, 2013 - 1:17 pm | Permalink

    I vote for John Donne because there is a reference to him in a pop song by “The Captain Howdy.” Anytime popular music recognizes one of ‘us’, it is a special moment in cultural time. Of course, I’ll give you three guesses as to which aspecty of Donn’es writings caught The Captain Howdy’s attention….

  28. Aleathia (Dolores) Nicholson's Gravatar Aleathia (Dolores) Nicholson
    February 2, 2013 - 1:28 pm | Permalink

    Overly pious folk are just too too-too and that’s why Donne was so much more fun having lived a quite riotous life full of fun and debauchery galore. Repentance is good and it helps to have something about which one is repenting.

  29. Squire David's Gravatar Squire David
    February 2, 2013 - 1:32 pm | Permalink

    I had never focused much on Donne’s contributions to capturing the essence of the human spirit. Indeed, given the spice injected in his writings, I’m impressed that he found his way into the play-in round at all! Eliot has had his share of plaudits thorugh the years. It’s time for Donne to bask in the glow of an admiring literate constituency. A tough call, but I thought it OVER and went with DONNE.

  30. Squire David's Gravatar Squire David
    February 2, 2013 - 1:34 pm | Permalink

    I had never focused much on Donne’s contributions to capturing the essence of the human spirit. Indeed, given the spice injected in his writings, I’m impressed that he found his way into the play-in round at all! Eliot has had his share of plaudits thr0ugh the years. It’s time for Donne to bask in the glow of an admiring literate constituency. A tough call, but I thought it OVER and went with DONNE.

  31. Mary-Elise Haug's Gravatar Mary-Elise Haug
    February 2, 2013 - 1:41 pm | Permalink

    John Donne as my rector and senior warden threatened by nerd status if I voted for Eliot. I left them this morning looking up Donne hymns.

  32. Edgar Wallace's Gravatar Edgar Wallace
    February 2, 2013 - 2:18 pm | Permalink

    I do like them both very much. But Eliot gets my vote.

    I said to my soul, be still, and let the dark come upon you
    Which shall be the darkness of God….

    So the darkness shall be the light, and the stillness the dancing.
    – from Four Quartets

  33. February 2, 2013 - 2:18 pm | Permalink

    Donne all the way, although Eliot deserves praise!

  34. Murray's Gravatar Murray
    February 2, 2013 - 2:49 pm | Permalink

    Hard to choose, when Donne’s poem “Good Friday: Riding Westward” and Eliot’s “Ash Wednesday” are both so totally appropriate for Lent Madness. But, having done my dissertation on TSE, he gets my vote!

  35. Mister Christopher's Gravatar Mister Christopher
    February 2, 2013 - 2:55 pm | Permalink

    For me, it comes down to “Death Be Not Proud” vs. “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock.”

    In which case I cast my vote for Eliot, any day of the week, and twice on Sunday.

  36. Adelaide Kent's Gravatar Adelaide Kent
    February 2, 2013 - 3:21 pm | Permalink

    Looks like a Donne deal to me.

  37. February 2, 2013 - 3:39 pm | Permalink

    I was leaning towards Eliot, both as a convert to Anglo-Catholicism ;) and because my pastor reads parts of “Journey of the Magi” during the Christmas season as part of his homily. But, I’m troubled by the way that he treated his first wife. Saints who contend for the Golden Halo should witness to the gospel by their lives as well as their verse!

    • February 2, 2013 - 4:20 pm | Permalink

      Beware of looking for the “perfect” saint — you won’t find him/her here in Lent Madness. . . or anywhere for that matter.

    • Murray's Gravatar Murray
      February 2, 2013 - 6:27 pm | Permalink

      I think Eliot apologized for the way he treated Vivienne in “Little Gidding,” where he writes of “things ill done and done to others’ harm with once you took for exercise of virtue.”

  38. Shirley A's Gravatar Shirley A
    February 2, 2013 - 4:13 pm | Permalink

    Has to be Eliot for me. Who cannot love Old Possum – and the Journey of the Magi. Hope this is how to vote!

    • February 2, 2013 - 7:37 pm | Permalink

      Shirley, posting a comment won’t cast your vote – you have to go back up to the end of the article where it says “John Donne Vs. T.S. Eliot”, click the radio button next to Eliot’s name, and click on the “Vote” button.

      (Apologies if you’d already figured that 0ut – I just wanted to make sure you weren’t disenfranchised by confusing voting technology. ;) )

      • Jennifer's Gravatar Jennifer
        February 4, 2013 - 11:29 am | Permalink

        Yes it can be confusing to newcomers, and we want to be welcoming. First thing that threw me was no ballot unless/until you click to see the comments. Also important to note that there is one (legal) vote per person?…per email?
        Tis Lent Madness, after all, not Appalachia.
        Though we do have dead people commentating, apparently.
        How about a newcomer’s guide tab that clearly explains The Rules. A plea to SEC to make it so. With all their spare time and such.

  39. February 2, 2013 - 4:40 pm | Permalink

    Eliot all the way. As lit major at university, I did poorly in poetry because I never got the meanings my prof said were the correct meanings. Donne’s poetry escaped me most, according to my prof. Then, in 1990, I sat two lectures with Rowan Williams at Oxford on Christian poetry after Auden. I was not going to go but I’d payed a lot of money for two weeks of lectures so I went prepared to endure. Suffice it to say Rowan said things about how the poet writes that freed me from the slavery of my professors at university. Starving, I went straight away to Blackwell’s and bought Eliot’s 4 Quartets just for the way the words felt on my brain. And the rest is history. So, Eliot it is.

  40. Jennifer's Gravatar Jennifer
    February 2, 2013 - 5:05 pm | Permalink

    Tom and Viv and Valerie vs. John and Anne? No question, Donne for the romantic vote!

    • Jennifer's Gravatar Jennifer
      February 4, 2013 - 11:44 am | Permalink

      Zut Alors! Apparently it is also possible for different people to register the same user name, because that is my name but that is not my post. THIS Jennifer says “Eliot” (though with a whimper, now). And this Jennifer will henceforth change her name to Thomasina to honour her favourite poet and make way for the new person. Welcome, fellow Jennifer, despite your alarming tendency to vote the wrong way! But perhaps before LM gets going in earnest SEC could jig the system a titch to address the newly-identified identity theft potential?

      • Jennifer (not Jennifer)'s Gravatar Jennifer (not Jennifer)
        February 4, 2013 - 1:29 pm | Permalink

        But my dear fellow Jennifer, aren’t you used to the fact that there are 20 MILLION of us? Is my new name better for you? Happy Monday and sincere condolences for your T.S.

  41. Alan Wylds's Gravatar Alan Wylds
    February 2, 2013 - 5:59 pm | Permalink

    I was going to vote for Eliot, but then the bio reminded me that he was responsible for CATS… sorry, can’t forgive that. Donne gets my vote!

  42. Heidi Shott's Gravatar Heidi Shott
    February 2, 2013 - 6:07 pm | Permalink

    Okay. This is getting too close for comfort. Donne is the man, here. He is the human being who concerned himself with this world and how we live in it and how we are in relationship with one another. That’s what I want in my poet and priest and saint. Eliot pointed to God as a stillpoint in a turning world. That’s not what I want in God – some distant God out there in the vast reaches of the interstellar. I want an incarnate God and Donne – all these years later – is still the guy who points me Eastward. (Typed this on my phone. There could be booboos.)

    • Jennifer's Gravatar Jennifer
      February 2, 2013 - 7:00 pm | Permalink

      Yes!

      • JenniferThomasina's Gravatar JenniferThomasina
        February 4, 2013 - 11:46 am | Permalink

        No!

  43. Patsy's Gravatar Patsy
    February 2, 2013 - 6:13 pm | Permalink

    It’s fun to read people’s comments. I wish we had the ability to “like” them. Maybe next year the guru-ick arch-nemesi will add that feature. In the meantime, I “like” all the comments.

  44. Murray's Gravatar Murray
    February 2, 2013 - 6:25 pm | Permalink

    Eliot carried on a correspondence with Groucho Marx. When they finally met, each had boned up on the other’s work–Groucho on poetry, Eliot on movies. Then they discovered that they both loved cats and cigars, so they had a good time. I can’t imagine Donne having anything to say to Groucho . . .

  45. Patsy Duncan's Gravatar Patsy Duncan
    February 2, 2013 - 7:19 pm | Permalink

    While the qwirkiness of Eliot is tempting, I must vote for Donne who gave permission to question doctrine … oh and he’s also a relative of mine! :-)

  46. Sally from Magnolia's Gravatar Sally from Magnolia
    February 2, 2013 - 8:23 pm | Permalink

    This is so, so hard–two of my most cherished poets. Had to go with Donne. “Batter my heart, three- personned God…”

  47. Elaine Hood Culver's Gravatar Elaine Hood Culver
    February 2, 2013 - 8:57 pm | Permalink

    John Donne, although this probably means that I won’t be Journeying to the Heaviside Layer.

  48. Bruce keary's Gravatar Bruce keary
    February 2, 2013 - 11:03 pm | Permalink

    ts Eliot, like a patient etherized upon a table

  49. Ginny Rodriguez's Gravatar Ginny Rodriguez
    February 2, 2013 - 11:13 pm | Permalink

    Donne’s words always made sense to me; Eliot’s words seemed uncomfortable and wandering in unhappiness. Modern angst, perhaps.
    Anyway, I vote for Donne.

  50. Harry W's Gravatar Harry W
    February 3, 2013 - 12:39 am | Permalink

    TS gets my vote, I feel his works were written for and to the common man. He
    wasn’t living with kings or bishops; his writings weren’t seen as great works
    during his life. His works are more uncomfortable with have more unhappiness
    in them. More people in our world live in these conditions today. Elliot brings
    us a view of this world so we won’t forget the world of need around us!

  51. Harry W's Gravatar Harry W
    February 3, 2013 - 2:15 am | Permalink

    Therefore we thank Thee for our little light, that is dappled with shadow.
    We thank Thee who hast moved us to building, to finding, to forming at the ends of our fingers and beams of our eyes.
    And when we have built an altar to the Invisible Light, we may set thereon the little lights for which our bodily vision is made.
    And we thank Thee that darkness reminds us of light.
    O Light Invisible, we give Thee thanks for Thy great glory!

    From Choruses from The Rock – T.S. Eliot

  52. Patsy's Gravatar Patsy
    February 3, 2013 - 8:18 am | Permalink

    I just “have to say this” at the beginning of Lent Madness voting. There are so very few things we “have to do.” I want to vote for__. I choose to vote for___. My arm is being twisted by a blogger to vote for___. If I’m sounding like a fusty old English professor who taught writing for 22 years, that’s because I [have to say!!!!!] I am.

  53. Millie Ericson's Gravatar Millie Ericson
    February 3, 2013 - 8:26 am | Permalink

    Patsy, I join you in wishing for a “like” button! Such great comments and great fun! Looks like my guy went donne in defeat but it was a great contest! Must look into that West Virginia voting mechanism for the future!

  54. Brock's Gravatar Brock
    February 3, 2013 - 8:54 am | Permalink

    I’m fond of both, but Eliot’s Four Quartets is one of the most moving works of Christian poetry. The Easter imagery is wonderful.

    “The wounded surgeon plies the steel
    That questions the distempered part;
    Beneath his bleeding hands we feel
    The sharp compassion of the healer’s art
    Resolving the enigma of the fever chart.”

  55. Rob's Gravatar Rob
    February 3, 2013 - 9:18 am | Permalink

    [to the tune of Beethoven's 5th]
    Donne Donne Donne, Dooooooooooonnnnnnne

  56. Gregg j.Gormley's Gravatar Gregg j.Gormley
    February 3, 2013 - 3:18 pm | Permalink

    I didn’t catch any mention of Elliot’s admiration for the Metaphysical Poets-Donne chief amongst them.
    I believe they were known as Cavalier poets prior to Elliot. I further submit that Elliot would vote for Donne.
    Therefore, I vote for Donne.

  57. Father Rico's Gravatar Father Rico
    February 3, 2013 - 6:17 pm | Permalink

    Couldn’t quite vote on my computer for some reason, on either Feb 2 or 3. I trust there’s no voting machine scheme afoot! My vote would’ve been for Donne…I hope he won!

  58. Justin's Gravatar Justin
    February 4, 2013 - 3:47 pm | Permalink

    No fair! The author was biased! She didn’t care that Eliot’s poem is titled “The Waste Land” and not “The Wasteland”. And no love for his poem “Ash Wednesday” in such a forum as this? His bulleted list has no spark; it’s all accomplishments. Donne’s is full of personality, but the list for Eliot lacks his verve! He sent fan letters to Groucho Marx! He walked away from completing his doctorate from Harvard . . . even though he had finished the hard part of writing the dissertation! And he wrote this:

    If the lost word is lost, if the spent word is spent
    If the unheard, unspoken
    Word is unspoken, unheard;
    Still is the unspoken word, the Word unheard,
    The Word without a word, the Word within
    The world and for the world;
    And the light shone in darkness and
    Against the Word the unstilled world still whirled
    About the centre of the silent Word.

    O my people, what have I done unto thee.

    • JenniferThomasina's Gravatar JenniferThomasina
      February 4, 2013 - 7:23 pm | Permalink

      I feel your pain but please don’t blame Penny – she was on our side, and I’m sure she was well aware of Ash Wednesday and probably just saving something for the next round. Instead, congratulate Laurie on ekeing a victory out of clearly inferior material! ; )

      • Justin's Gravatar Justin
        February 4, 2013 - 7:26 pm | Permalink

        Ha! I love it, JenniferThomasina. I’m just being a sore loser; no offense intended. Eliot adored Donne, so this loss wouldn’t have upset him. And Penny mentioned Ash Wednesday in passing.

  59. Erant Rockingham's Gravatar Erant Rockingham
    February 4, 2013 - 4:14 pm | Permalink

    CATS beats all!!!
    Eliot!!!

  60. Becky's Gravatar Becky
    February 4, 2013 - 5:27 pm | Permalink

    T. S. Eliot

    Do I dare
    Disturb the universe?
    In a minute there is time
    For decisions and revisions which a minute will reverse.

  61. Susan Hedges's Gravatar Susan Hedges
    February 4, 2013 - 7:09 pm | Permalink

    And the voting is over and I missed it because I did not get an email about it, which I fear is my own fault. I forgot to check the notify box. Oh well, I would have voted for Donne, so no great loss. I will check the box now!!

  62. Brigid Courtney's Gravatar Brigid Courtney
    February 5, 2013 - 4:10 pm | Permalink

    I can’t find anything to click on for the vote, however, it’s a tough choice. I go with sigh??!! T.S.Eliot

  63. February 8, 2013 - 3:01 pm | Permalink

    I vote for John Donne!

Comments are closed.

2 Trackbacks to "Play-In: John Donne vs. T.S. Eliot"

  1. on February 2, 2013 at 3:33 pm
  2. on February 2, 2013 at 4:11 pm