Discuss "The Retreat" a typical metaphysical religious poem.

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accessteacher | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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The most common aspect of metaphysical poetry is the use of conceits, which can be described as surprising figures of speech in which one thing is compared to another thing that is rather unlike it. In this poem, we can see the central conceit that is used throughout is the comparison of life to a journey or a race. This is used to describe the speaker's longing for a "retreat" to where he came from originally. This poem is about the belief of some that the soul had a heavenly existence prior to its earthly existence in the world. Thus the speaker talks about being "Appointed for my second race" and walking "a mile or two" from his first home.

Note the longing in the speaker's voice when he expresses his desire to return and venture back to his first home:

Oh how I long to travel back,

And tread again that ancient track!

That I might once more reach that plain,

Where first I left my glorious train...

Here he expresses his desire and fervent hope that he might venture back to where he originally came from, likening his life to a journey and hoping that the end destination will be from whence he emerged. Thus the central metaphysical quality of this poem is its use of a conceit to liken life to a long journey.

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