This is a book for the reader who remembers his college English courses with affection, especially the classes allotted to the difficult--but rewarding, because sometimes bawdy--poetry of John Donne. It is not written for scholars, does not attempt to break new ground; at the end is a tidy list of source material. The book's most visible merit is its illustrations: lavish and pertinent, they complement the text. Derek Parker's thesis, that Dr. Donne, the Dean of Saint Paul's, used in his religious verse the same energy and talents that lack Donne, man about town, had formerly used in addressing his mistresses and patronesses, serves to carry the story along. Parker gives us generous samplings of Donne's Sermons, great prose in this age of unbelief as they were when they were written, in the age of religious wars. He leaves us with a sense of melancholy. What a slender weapon the poetic gift is against the burdens the Fates concomitantly send: death of wife, brother, children, courting favor in poverty from the rich and indifferent, burying in his own old age the many dead of the plague--worldly success arrived at too late to make up for those losses. A sad life, but a lively book.