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Metaphysical Poetry is defined more in terms of style than content or a governing ideology. John Donne, Andrew Marvell, George Herbert, Henry Vaughn, Richard Crashaw and Abraham cowley are the poets in contention. The word 'Metaphysical' came later, in the contemporary period, these poems were called 'strong lines'.
The Metaphysical style and other elements as evident in the poetry of John Donne are as follows--
1.The concietful style--combining distant and far fetched analogies e.g. lovers' hearts and hemispheres
2. The allusive style--references to a vast area of discursive knowledge from mythology to science.
3. The poetry of erudition, displaying knowledge
4. Argumentative style--using logical forms, premise-conclusion structures
5. The epigrammatic style--working by the means of short pithy statements, paradoxes and ironies.
6. Parodic and undercutting style, marked with latent sarcasm
7. A critical and realist stance in terms of love-poetry--candid admission of sexuality and physicality in love, the accommodation of plurality in it, the body-soul dialogue in love, critique of the Elizabethan romantic idealism.
John Donne rebelled against the outdated style of the elizabethan poets.He used intellectualism and reason in place of idealism(which was followed by elizabethan poets).The remarkable features of John Donne's metaphysical poetry are:
-conceits:the complex logic of comparison,that startled the readers.
-concenteration:very specific in the discussion of the ideas.
-colloquial usage:it showed Donne's involvement in inducing the reader to delve deeper into the poem.
-controversial,abrupt openings:sudden and startling openings which immediately draw the reader's attention(eg:the sun raising,cannonization)
-deliberate use of false logic:he poses an argument and is able to convince the reader
-intellectual tone:he takes comarisons from science,philosophy,astronomy etc and compares his lover's teardrop to a minted coin(a valediction:for weeping) unlike the usual ones ie,comparison of lover's cheeks to rosebuds.
-dramatic effect:his energy injected poetry is full of vigour and animation
-freedom of rythm:no particular format was used or adopted.his poems were mostly rash and argumentative.
Donne enriched the post elizabethan era by differing from the elizabethan poets with regard to the above given aspects.
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