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The Metaphysical Poets

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John Sanders

on 2 December 2016

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Transcript of The Metaphysical Poets

Some Information To Know About The Habitat.... The Metaphysicals A Poetry Safari A metaphor in that!! 1590-1680 AD There is extreme unrest and tension going on in the habitat of the poets! Beware!

The Thirty Years War Begins
-Throughout all of Europe
- Lasted from1618-1648
-Protestants vs. Roman Catholic Politics
People In Power: Events: King Philip II ruled Spain until his death in 1598. He was succeeded by his son Philip III

Elizabeth I rules England until her death in 1603, she is succeeded by King James VI of Scotland
( Union of the Crowns)

King Henry IV ruled France from 1589-1620. He is succeeded by Louis the XIII, who ruled until 1643

Socio-Cultural Considerations The Scientific Revolution was still continuing at this time

-New ideas were being formed in the fields of physics,
astronomy, biology, human anatomy, chemistry, and
other sciences.

-Francis Bacon fathers the scientific method

- Galileo reports his telescope findings in 1610 (Juipter has moons!)

Education (if you were lucky enough to get it) consisted of basic manners

- Only boys were taught publicly. Girls, if taught, were taught at home

-Jesuit education common with Catholics The Anglo-Spanish War
- Lasted from1585-1604
- "conflict"/ separate little skirmishes

Essex Rebellion of 1601
(staged a play)

Bye Plot of 1603
(planned kidnapping of King)

Gunpowder Plot of 1605
(planned/prevented blowing up of House of Lords)

Jamestown, Virginia settlement is founded
- Established in 1607 The plague is present in London in 1603!
-10,675 deaths reported

Diseases so easily spread because of poor sanitation

Other prevalent diseases include smallpox, measles, malaria, typhus, diptheria, syphilis...etc

Life expectancy was not high.
(35 if wealthy, 25 if poor)

Middle and upper class had food available.

Starvation common in lower classes

Amongst all this, there is a population boom Extended metaphor What we're searching for: (aka metaphysical conceit, incongrous with subject) Deep Subject Rhetoric use Variety of Metrical Forms (Artist interpretation) Wit Personal, natural voice (Argumentative; lawyer-like) (religion, science, philosophy, politics, etc.) Sello Tape - Flight of the Conchords (clever, even funny due to over-the-top nature) As virtuous men pass mildly away,
And whisper to their souls to go,
Whilst some of their sad friends do say,
"Now his breath goes," and some say, "No."

So let us melt, and make no noise, 5
No tear-floods, nor sigh-tempests move ;
'Twere profanation of our joys
To tell the laity our love.

Moving of th' earth brings harms and fears ;
Men reckon what it did, and meant ; 10
But trepidation of the spheres,
Though greater far, is innocent.

Dull sublunary lovers' love
—Whose soul is sense—cannot admit
Of absence, 'cause it doth remove 15
The thing which elemented it.

But we by a love so much refined,
That ourselves know not what it is,
Inter-assurèd of the mind,
Care less, eyes, lips and hands to miss. 20

Our two souls therefore, which are one,
Though I must go, endure not yet
A breach, but an expansion,
Like gold to aery thinness beat.

If they be two, they are two so 25
As stiff twin compasses are two ;
Thy soul, the fix'd foot, makes no show
To move, but doth, if th' other do.

And though it in the centre sit,
Yet, when the other far doth roam, 30
It leans, and hearkens after it,
And grows erect, as that comes home.

Such wilt thou be to me, who must,
Like th' other foot, obliquely run ;
Thy firmness makes my circle just, 35
And makes me end where I begun. A Valediction Forbidding Mourning Position?
Subject? Position?
Subject? Fun Fact: The Metaphysicals got their name from poet John Dryden "He affects the metaphysics, not only in his satires, but in his amorous verses, where nature only should reign; and perplexes the minds of the fair sex with nice speculations of philosophy, when he should engage their hearts, and entertain them with the softnesses of love" To Simplify... Position
Subject ...or PMS 1572 - Born in London Prosperous Roman Catholic Family Luxurious lifestyle
Time to write Dangerous in Protestant England Education: 3 years at Oxford,
3 years at Cambridge (Jesuit teachers) No degrees - refused to take Oath of Supremacy 1592: Studied Law at Lincoln Inn 1593: Brother died in prison on charges of protecting proscribed priest (Questions faith) Young Donne uses inheritance on books, travel, the arts, and women 1601: Became member of Parliament 1601: Eloped With Anne More, Daughter of Lt. of Tower (Career Suicide) (17 years old) Thrown in prison
Lost job
Lost home Had to practice law, write for religious pamphlet to support family "John Donne, Anne Donne, Undone." 1610: Wrote "Pseudo-Martyr" and other anti-Catholic works King James liked his style, and forced Donne into service for the Anglican Church Donne became fantastic preacher, and would eventually rise to Dean of St. Paul's 1617: Anne Donne dies John Donne is "Crucified to the world" Continues to Write "Since she whom I lov'd hath paid her last debt"
And other Holy Sonnets and Meditations Donne becomes obsessed with death Sickness overtakes him
Wrote "Meditation 17"

1631: Donne dies of natural causes

Last Poem: Hymne to God, my God, in My Sicknesse Wait, what is this? It's a wild John Donne!! Scientific Name:
-Metaphysae Primarus

-Brothels, Estate, Church

Notable Characteristics:
-Considerable Wit
-Passionate nature

Trademark footprints:
-The Flea
-Batter My Heart
-The Sunne Rising
-Holy Sonnets
-A Hymne to God, My God
In my Sicknesse Review of Themes and Works Idiosyncracies Rhetoric (lawyer)
Poetic voice like theatrical dialogue
Witty, not just fluff
EXTENDED METAPHORS Themes Early: Love, nature of the world, Satires of older poets Late: Death, end of the world, metaphysical concerns Category Songs and Satires


Holy Sonnets


Meditations Examples Subject The Bait

Forbidding Mourning

17: Since She whom I Loved...
An Anatomy of the World
Meditation 17 Love (Woman=Bait)
Why mourn?
Dual Compasses
Why did she die?
Life = debt
Nature of world
(world = body)
Dying thoughts Look! Two poets! Andrew Marvell George Herbert Scientific Name:
-Metaphysae Secundarus

-Tradinghouse, Estate, Church

Notable Characteristics:
-Epigramatic Wit
-Ability to write in Latin
-Platonic allusions

Trademark works:
-On A Drop of Dew
(Soul = drop of dew on flower)
-To his Coy Mistress
(Time is enemy of love; satire of idealism)
-The Garden
(Garden = Garden of Eden; human nature)
-Upon Appleton House
(Public service vs. personal insight)
-The Coronet
(Poetry = Christ's crown; hard to write
religious poetry) Scientific Name:
-Metaphysae Religio


Notable Characteristics:
-Attention to Speech
-Biblical Allusion

Trademark works:
(Are priests worthy to preach?)
-The Church-floore
(Church floor = ideal Christian)
(Posy = emblem of life; transcience)
-The Collar
(Being led by some unknown master)
(What is man?) Henry Vaughan! LOOK! Scientific Name:
-Metaphysae Silures

-Countryside, Physician's office

Notable Characteristics:
-Depressing past
-Influenced by Herbert

Trademark works:
-Ascension: Hymn
(How does one ascend? Jesus = loved ones)
(Why is man restless? Men = Birds/bees)
-The Night
(Nature of night and enlightenment)
-The Water-fall
(Biblical symbolism in waterfall)
-The Retreate
(Life is a journey AWAY from Heaven) John Donne (1572–1631)
George Herbert (1593–1633)
Andrew Marvell (1621–1678)
Richard Crashaw (c. 1613–1649),
Henry Vaughan (1622–1695)
George Chapman (c. 1559–1634)
Thomas Carew (1595–1640)
Abraham Cowley (1618–1667),
Edward Herbert (1583–1648)
Sir John Suckling (1609–1642) Metaphysicals The Pilgrams come to Plymouth, Massachussetts in the Mayflower
- occurred in 1620
- happened because of religious intolerance

War with France

The English Civil War Health Education At a glance-
Politics and religion intertwined
Monarchies vs. Parliament
Imperialism/ Colonization
Spanish Empire is the most powerful
Age of plots, schemes, and conspiracies! Timeline! I hate you Let's fight. Food? NO. Well this
stinks. Economics Mercanitilism off and running

Colonization/ exploration leads towards resources

However, in England especially, poverty is common.
(War and constant conflicts leave their mark) The Mindset: Fine Art Movements Baroque:

"It's not just the common economic standing of the time!"
Defined as "being characterized by dynamic movement, overt emotion, and self- confident rhetoric" Aeneas Flees Burning Troy painted by Frederico Barocci Religion/ Philosophy Religious conflicts between Catholics and Protestants

People were questioning their beliefs

Thomas Hobbes sets a mood of pessimism
-"life is nasty, brutish, and short" Prevalent artisits also include:
-Hans Holbein the Younger
-Anthony van Dyck
-Nicholas Hilliard Musical Styles The "Baroque" music style
did not come until later. (The movements don't quite overlap) Music at this time was madrigal and ayre in style Contemporary Literature - Elizabethan Poets
(Shakespeare, Sidney, Spenser)

-Elizabethan poetry was smooth, traditional and emotional. Subject matter was mostly love.

-Famed works were Faerie Queene by Spenser and Shakespeare's sonnets They Painted These!
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