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Metaphysical Poetry

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Taylor Buckley

on 31 October 2013

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Transcript of Metaphysical Poetry

George Herbert
Poetry is simple and graceful (Greenblatt 1705)
Uses extended biblical metaphors, similar to Donne’s conceits (Greenblatt 1707)
His poetry reflects his struggle to define his relationship with God (Greenblatt 1705)
Expressed through societal examples—king and subject/servant and master
Used many different poetic structures—sonnets, songs, hymns, laments, acrostic, emblematic… (Greenblatt 1706)
Places a strong emphasis on form in poems like “Easter Wings” and “The Alter”
Carmine Figuration
Metaphysical Poetry
Taylor Buckley, Marla Martens, Kylie Haggerty, Mikaela Leners
Concepts of Metaphysical Poetry
Major Poets
Themes used in Metaphysical Poetry
Influence of the Metaphysical Poets
“Metaphysical poetry is a paradoxical inquiry, imaginative and intellectual, which exhausts, by its use of antithesis and contradiction and unusual imagery, all the possibilities of a given idea. This idea will predominately be a psychological probing of love, death, or religion as the more important matters of experience in the life of the poet, and will be embodied in striking metaphorical utterance or in the use of the common (familiar) or the scientific word.”
(Smith 263)
Conceits & Unusual Imagery
Importance of Self-Experience
Contradictions & Antithesis
“There was, however, no formal “school” of Metaphysical poetry” (Greenblatt,1372)
T.S. Eliot
Poets Influenced
Lasting Impact
T.S. Eliot
American/ English poetry and prose author
Nobel Prize in Literature, 1948 (T.S. Eliot Biographical)
Essay, "The Metaphysical Poets"
John Donne
George Herbert
Andrew Marvell
John Donne
Born 1572 into a strictly Catholic family (Nelly 7)
1597, conformed to the Anglican Church (Nelly 9)
1601, married Ann More (Greenblatt 1371)
1615, became Anglican Priest (Warnke 8)

Elaborately sustained metaphors, startling images--exalting and grotesque (Greenblatt 1370)
Main focuses in his early years—religion and sexual love (Warnke 4)
Later poems—religious and somber (Warnke 9)
Intellectual (Greenblatt 1370)
Used poetry to express criticism of English Society (Greenblatt 1370)

John Donne
George Herbert
Born 1593 into one of the most distinguished families in England (Summers 29)
His mother was a close friend of John Donne
Studied at Trinity College, Cambridge (Summers 31-32)
Master’s degree in 1616
Became the Public Orator of the university in 1620
1630, ordained and became a pastor in a small country parish (Greenblatt 1706)
Before he died in 1633, Herbert gave his manuscript of "The Temple" to Nicholas Farrar (Greenblatt 1706).

Andrew Marvell
Born in 1621 (Greenblatt 1789)
Marvell was educated at Trinity College, Cambridge (Greenblatt 1789)
While at school he ran off to London and converted to Roman Catholicism, father made him come back.
Earned his degree in 1639 (Greenblatt 1789)
Became a member of parliament in 1659 (Greenblatt 1790)

Wrote significantly less than Donne and Herbert, but his range was greater (Greenblatt 1789)
“Claimed both the private worlds of love and religion and the public worlds of political and satiric poetry and prose” (Greenblatt 1789)
Political career
Poetry explores the human condition through fundamental dichotomies (Body and soul, flesh and spirit, physical sex and platonic love) (Greenblatt 1789-90)
Dramatic monologue (Greenblatt 1790)
Marvell’s poetry has similar paradoxes and complexities to Donne (Greenblatt 1789)

Andrew Marvell
Source: T.S. Eliot Biographical
Brief Biography
Poets Influenced
According to T.S. Eliot, the best examples are all French
Baudelaire (Two Centuries after Donne)
Similar conceits
No direct evidence of influence (Eliot 222)
Jules Laforgue (Eliot 222)
Tristan Corbière (Eliot 222)
M. Jean Epstein (Eliot 221)
Racine (Eliot 222)
Lasting Impact
Immediate influence largely lost under the popularity of Dryden and Milton
Language and diction at the expense of emotion
"But while the language became more refined, the feeling became more crude" (Eliot 220)
No one directly followed, but the poetry remains canonical
"John Donne immensely influenced the succeeding generation, but he remains a singularity (Bartlett 1372)
"And this means that they are both more mature, and that they wear better than later poets" (Eliot 221)
Source: Poets.org
The metaphysical poets are united through their use of similar concepts like conceits, contradictions, and self experience; and common themes like life, love, death and religion. Though this school of poetry is poorly defined, poets like Donne, Herbert, and Marvell have had a lasting impact on English Poetry.
Works Cited
George Herbert
A metaphysical poet who used the theme of religion.
Often devoted his works to god.
"Herbert wrote no love poetry, having decided, when he began writing poetry at Cambridge, to devote his works to god" (Mackean)
"Easter Wings"
One of many poems he used a religious theme.
John Donne
A metaphysical poet who applied the theme of love to his poetry.
“John Donne's Songs and Sonets, along with many of the erotic elegies, constitute a varied, even sporadic meditation on the experience and significance of love.”(Young)
"The Flea"
“In the poem, it appears that the seducing male and the seduced female unite and become one after being sucked by the flea.”(Mansour)
Andrew Marvell

Uses life based themes in his poetry
"Many of Marvell's poems explore the human condition in terms of fundamental dichotomies that resist resolution" (Greenblatt 1790)
One of his most famous poem is based on carpe diem is titled “To His Coy Mistress” (GreenBlatt 1790).
Carpe diem theme
“seize the day” makes it a great candidate for using the theme of life, because it is all about going out and making the best of everyday.
Religion, Life, and Love
Source: Greenblatt 1707
Source: Andrew
Source: White
Excess of conceits typical of metaphysical poetry (A Critique 88)
Designed to support the theme of the poem (Smith 263)
Pairing of two seemingly exclusive ideas or concepts (A Critique 93)
Not simply ornamental: the conceit functions to suggest a greater idea, or link two things together (Smith 263)
Example: (Smith 265)
…Her pure and eloquent blood / Spoke in her cheeks, and so distinctly wrought / That one might almost say her body thought" (Donne’s Second Anniversary)
Metaphysical poetry linked science and the imagination (Smith 263)
Use of universal analogy and the science of correspondences (A Critique 93)
Everything is related to everything else in the world (A Critique 93)
Broke down complex ideas into ones that were easier to understand (Smith 262)
Did not solve complexity, merely provided a way of looking at it (Smith 262-263)
Trickledown ideas of the Renaissance Man (A Critique 93)
Individual and secular experience was as valid as community and religious experience (Smith 264)
Controlled by intellect, not by passion or sentimentality (Smith 263)
Source: Oliver
Lord, who createdst man in wealth and store,
Though foolishly he lost the same,
Decaying more and more,
Till he became
Most poore:
With thee
O let me rise
As larks, harmoniously,
And sing this day thy victories:
Then shall the fall further the flight in me.

Had we but world enough, and time,
This coyness, lady, were no crime.
We would sit down and think which way
To walk, and pass our long love’s day. (Greenblatt 1796)
Mark but this flea, and mark in this.
How little that which thou deniest me is;
Me it sucked first, and now sucks thee.
And in this flea, our two bloods mingled be;
Thou know'st that this cannot be said
A sin, or shame, or loss of maidenhead.

"Charles Baudelaire." Poets.org. Academy of American Poets, n.d. Web. 27 Oct. 2013.

Eliot, T. S. "Three Essays on Poetry of the Seventeenth Century: II. The Metaphysical Poets." Comp. Leonard S. Woolf and Virginia S. Woolf. The Hogarth Essays. Freeport: for Libraries, 1970. 212-23. Print.

Greenblatt, Stephen, and M. H. Abrams. "George Herbert." The Norton Anthology of English Literature. 9th ed. Vol. B. New York: W.W. Norton, 2012. 1705-07. Print.

---."John Donne." The Norton Anthology of English Literature. 9th ed. Vol. B. New York: W.W. Norton, 2012. 1370-72. Print.

---."Andrew Marvell." The Norton Anthology of English Literature. 9th ed. Vol. B. New York: W.W. Norton, 2012. 1789-90,1796. Print.

Herbert, George. "Easter Wings." The Poetry Foundation. Web. 30 Oct. 2013.

Mackean, Ian. "John Donne, George Herbert, Henry Vaughan Religious Metaphysical Poetry." Study Literature Online. Feb. 2005. Web. 30 Oct. 2013. <http://www.literature-study-online.com/essays/religious-metaphysical-poetry.html>.

Mansour, Wisam. "Donne's THE FLEA." Explicator 65.1 (2006): 7-9. Academic Search Premier. Web. 30 Oct. 2013.

Mazzeo, Joseph Anthony. “A Critique of Some Modern Theories of Metaphysical Poetry.” Modern Philology 50.2 (1952), pp. 86-96. Web. 13 October 2013.

---. “Metaphysical Poetry and the Poetic of Correspondence.” Journal of the History of Ideas 14.2 (1953), pp. 221-234. Web. 13 October 2013.

"Metaphysical." Merriam-Webster. Encyclopaedia Britannica, n.d. Web. 20 Oct. 2013.

Nelly, Una. The Poet Donne; a Study in His Dialectic Method. Cork: Cork University Press, 1969. 7-9. Print.

Smith, W Bradford. “What is Metaphysical Poetry?” The Sewanee Review 42.3 (1934), pp. 261-272. Web. 13 October 2013.

Summers, Joseph H. George Herbert, His Religion and Art. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1954. 29-32. Print.

"T.S. Eliot - Biographical". Nobelprize.org. Nobel Media AB 2013. Web. 20 Oct 2013. http://www.nobelprize.org/nobel_prizes/literature/laureates/1948/eliot-bio.html

Warnke, Frank J. John Donne. Ed. Arthur F. Kinney. Boston: Twayne, 1987. 4-9. Print.

Young, R.V. "Love, Poetry, And John Donne In The Love Poetry Of John Donne." Renascence 52.4 (2000): 251. Academic Search Premier. Web. 30 Oct. 2013.

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