Duncan McGibbon, Poetry Convenor for the BRLSI, reads John Donne’s ‘The Canonization’ (1633). In this poem the speaker is saying to a friend “if you must think ill of me, don’t think ill of me for loving, but do so for other reasons.” He goes on to describe the power of the love that he and his lover share, lending them an immortal, legendary status.
The “canonization” can be seen to refer to the idea that the nature of this love confers a form of sainthood on the speaker. But the poem itself can also be deemed a canonisation of the lovers. * Although some modern English readers may think that spelling ‘canonization’ with a ‘Z’ is an Americanism, in fact the use of Z in words ending with -ize predates the use of S (-ise). There are recorded examples of -ize endings in English dating as far back as the 1400s, long before English speaking people ever set foot in the Americas. The -ise endings became standard much later in English (in the early 19th Century), while America retained the older form.
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