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Sunday, December 13, 2009
Metaphysical poetry in English literature
The metaphysical poets were a group of 17th-century poetswho concerned themselves with the experience of man and the nature of being on the world. What is our place within the world and how to best define that place? Taking up the philosophy of metaphysics, first set forth by Aristotle, the metaphysical poets wrote of experience, including love, romance, beauty, imagination and manâ€™s relationship with God. Less concerned with expressing feeling ...view middle of the document...
Beneath the formal structure (of rhyme, meter and stanza) is the underlying (and often hardly less formal) structure of the poem's argument. Note that there may be two (or more) kinds of argument in a poem. In â€œTo His Coy Mistressâ€ the explicit argument (Marvell's request that the coy lady yield to his passion) is astalking horse for the more serious argument about the transitoriness of pleasure. The outward levity conceals (barely) a deep seriousness of intent. You would be able to show how this theme of carpe diem (â€œseize the dayâ€) is made clear in the third section of the poem.
ORIGIN OF THE NAME:
â€˜Metaphysical poetsâ€™ the name given to a diverse group of 17thâ€century English poets whose work is notable for its ingenious use of intellectual and theological concepts in surprising conceits, strange paradoxes and farâ€fetched imagery.
The word metaphysics is formed from the Greek meta ta phusika, a title which, about the year A.D. 70, was related by Andronicus of Rhodes to that collection of Aristotelian treatises which since then goes by the name of the"Metaphysics"
The term "metaphysical" when applied to poetry has a long and interesting history. The term "Metaphysical Poet" was first coined by the critic Samuel Johnson (1709-1784) in his book â€˜Life of Cowleyâ€™ and he used it as a disparaging term. Earlier, John Dryden had also been critical of the group of poets he grouped together as too proud of their wit. Johnson and Dryden valued the clarity, restraint and shapeliness of the poets of Augustan Rome (which is why some 18th century poets are called "Augustan," and therefore were antagonistic towards poets of the mid-17th century.
The Metaphysical poets were out of critical favor for the 18th and 19th centuries (obviously, the Romantic poets found little in this heavily intellectualized poetry). At the end of the 19th century and in the beginning of the 20th century, interest in this group picked up, and especially important was T.S. Eliot's famous essay "The Metaphysical Poets" Interest peaked this century with the New Critics school around mid-century, and now is tempering off a bit, though Donne, the original "Big Name" is being superceded now by interest in George Herbert, who's religious seeking and questioning seems to be hitting a critical nerve.
CHARACTERS OF METAPHYSICAL POETRY:
The metaphysical poems have been written following some chief characteristics. Such as:
o Use of ordinary speech mixed with puns, paradoxes and conceits (a paradoxical metaphor causing a shock to the reader by the strangeness of the objects compared; some examples: lovers and a compass, the soul and timber, the body and mind)
o The exaltation of wit, which in the 17th century meant a nimbleness of thought; a sense of fancy (imagination of a fantastic or whimsical nature); and originality in figures of speech
o Abstruse terminology often drawn from science or law
o Often poems are presented in the form of an argument