last time, but it’s impossible to discuss Renaissance poetry without touching on the Metaphysical Poets, chief of whom was John Donne. Enlightenment figures like Samuel Johnson disdained Donne’s tendency to bring philosophical topics into love poetry, but Samuel Taylor Coleridge and Charles Lamb revived his reputation among the Romantics. Contemporary Thomas Carew went so far as to claim in an elegy that English poetry had died with Donne because no other poet would dare achieve the same level of originality and creativity. Nor was Donne renowned only for his poetry. After he was named a Royal Chaplain and later Dean of St. Paul’s Cathedral in London, he became known as one of the greatest preachers of his day. And Meditation 17 from Devotions Upon Emergent Occasions (“No man is an island, entire of itself”) has inspired writers from Ernest Hemingway to Brad Bird. No, really. Watch The Incredibles with the subtitles on and pay attention to the name of Syndrome’s hideout. You’ll laugh. What’s startling about Donne, however, is sometimes where his works don’t show up when they are expected. Take, for example, one of the best character introductions in television history, from the fifth season of Supernatural: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u1EzU9sLQ6I I cannot speak highly enough of Julian Richings’ portrayal of Death. He’s regal. He’s powerful. He’s old. He’s composed. He doesn’t get angry, though he will get snarky. He’s seen it all and has a taste for Chicago-style pizza and fried pickles. And yet I keep waiting for someone like Sam Winchester to look him in the eye and say:
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