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Write a critical note on the metaphysical poets.

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vijay1234 | Student, Undergraduate | eNotes Newbie

Posted February 4, 2012 at 10:52 PM via web

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Write a critical note on the metaphysical poets.

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prishi12 | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Salutatorian

Posted February 23, 2012 at 2:06 PM (Answer #1)

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The metaphysical poets wrote between 1590 and 1680. They did not call themselves Metaphysicals but were given this name by later writers because their poetry dealt with philosophical speculation and abstract ideas. They were mostly influenced by John Donne although he made no attempt to gather a group of poets round him.

John Dryden, a poet of Charles II's time, talks of John Donne ‘affecting the metaphysics not only in his satires but in his amorous verses.’ Clearly he thought philosophical ideas were fine for satire (often quite intellectual verse) but not for love poetry.

Poetic philosophy: Metaphysical poetry is not afraid of ideas and concepts. These may be philosophical, but they may also be to do with religion, or science, or politics, or mathematics. Metaphysical poetry sometimes uses these ideas as the main part of the argument of the poem; but they are also used as a source of imagery, to illustrate a point.

Intellect and feeling : In much Metaphysical poetry there is a debate going on, as in a law-court, in which a case is being made for or against somebody or something. The poems can have a considerable intellectual content but this does not mean that they are academic, boring, or without feeling. Most of the Metaphysical poets were also very passionate and very engaged emotionally but they managed to combine intellect and emotion, as good lawyers do in court.

Form and Meaning:  Helen Gardner says, “ The metaphysical poets favoured either very simple verse forms, octosyllabic couplets or quatrains in which the length of line and rhyme scheme artfully enforced

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