Homework Help

What do you understand by the term "Metaphysical" as applied to John Donne?

user profile pic

mizradane | Student, Undergraduate | Valedictorian

Posted December 26, 2010 at 10:14 PM via web

dislike 1 like

What do you understand by the term "Metaphysical" as applied to John Donne?

2 Answers | Add Yours

user profile pic

Michelle Ossa | College Teacher | (Level 3) Educator Emeritus

Posted December 26, 2010 at 10:58 PM (Answer #1)

dislike 3 like

The term and application of the term "metaphysical" in poetry and literature refers to the exploration and extrapolation of themes that cannot otherwise be explained but through self contemplation, observation, and the analysis of life, its patterns, and its connection to the higher realm of spirituality.

John Donne belongs to a generation of 17th century poets whose commentary of life is based on such exploration. It is not the allegory to life and its consequences, but the appeal to the higher, spiritual, misunderstood, and mysterious characteristics of one's existence.

In not so many words, metaphysical refers not only to the world which is above the physical, but also to the analysis of the connection between the two.

user profile pic

dnguha | College Teacher | Salutatorian

Posted December 27, 2010 at 3:54 PM (Answer #2)

dislike 2 like

Lexically, "meta"(prefix) means forming words, denoting a position behind or beyond. In literature the term is marked by ingenious, witty imagery expressing subtleties of thought and emotion. John Dryden first employed the term " metaphysics".

The central theme of "The Good Morrow" certainly has no metaphysical touch about it for it is but the eternal passion of love. But, the twist given to this theme is all Donne's own. The concentration of thought and compression of style which make great demans on the attention and intellect of the reader, clearly marks it as a metaphysical poem. The sweeping references to geometry, chemistry and cosmology lend the poem a typically metaphysical character. An intellectual approach to the subject of love, together with a manly, vigorous style strengthens its claims as a metaphysical poem.

Join to answer this question

Join a community of thousands of dedicated teachers and students.

Join eNotes