By M. Winkleman, Michael A. Winkelman
Investigations into how the mind really works have resulted in impressive discoveries and those findings hold profound implications for examining literature. This examine applies contemporary breakthroughs from neuroscience and evolutionary psychology that allows you to deepen our realizing of John Donne's Songs and Sonnets.
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Additional resources for A Cognitive Approach to John Donne’s Songs and Sonnets
That is, we try to assess others’ internal drives correctly by interpreting their “externall operations” and ferreting out their likely motives, and we then respond wisely, sometimes deceptively, to their outward shows, which themselves might be intentionally misleading. The internal rhyme on “sighes” and “lies” in line 5 of “Natures lay Ideot” accentuates this. Treating dalliance as an Ovidian game or Hobbesian competition where one seeks any opening for selfish gain has earned Donne and others of his ilk disparagement for being cynical.
In fact, vigilant philological awareness is required to discern the imagery normally inhabiting our utterances. As the pioneering work of linguist George Lakoff has established, the bulk of our common target conceptual schema comes from the everyday world. For example, from our propensity to disagree and fight we get ARGUMENT IS WAR: “Marisa shot down my modest proposal” and suchlike phrases (cf. the bellum grammaticale of the Renaissance). Generally, poetic metaphors follow the same pattern, but with atypical or conspicuous variations on ordinary or expected usage.
37 Though geographically and chronologically distant from Donne’s milieu, its themes sufficiently match those of this book to merit this very brief treatment. In the poem, Washington calls the love he has discovered “a continent within the mind” (2). He goes on to describe its living and geological riches in lines evoking both America and the biblical Paradise: “Natural harbors and clear springs I find, / Shade trees and fruit trees, everything of its kind—/Even for an empire more resources than enough” (6–8).