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The concept of the “dissociation of sensibility” is actually a theoretical position espoused by T.S. Eliot to explain why he considered Augustan and Victorian poetry in some way lacking a quality possessed in his favourite poets of the Renaissance and Jacobean periods. In “The Metaphysical Poets”, Eliot argues that before this dissociation, intellect and feeling worked in concert, with the sciences and arts integrated into the emotional life of the poet and critic rather than being parts of separate realms. This meant that the poet could integrate all facets of the world of knowledge and experience, as in Donne’s use of scientific metaphor, without being strained or artificial. One obvious flaw with Eliot’s chronology is that Tennyson, in fact, provides much of the same synthesis (e.g. the place of evolutionary theory in “In Memoriam”) as Eliot finds in Donne.
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