What is metaphysical poetry? Bring out briefly that 'The Good Morrow' by John Donne is metaphysical poetry.

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susan3smith eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Metaphysical poetry is a term used to describe 17th Century poetry of such writers as John Donne and George Herbert.  It is characterized as highly intellectual representations of intensely emotional subjects.  Literary elements such as conceit, allusion, paradox, irony are often found in this type of poetry.  "The Good Morrow" by John Donne is an excellent example of this type of poetry.  The title begins the conceit in which the speaker's love for his beloved is compared to an awakening--both physical and emotional.  To describe this awakening, Donne uses religious allusions to the Seven Sleepers' den; geographical or cardiological references--explorers going to new worlds; references to alchemy (mixing equally) and obliquely to Plato's cave allegory (last line of first stanza)

Much wit characterizes this poetry as each stanza represents a phase of t love.  The first stanza deals with the state of the lovers before they found each other, the second deals with the present, and the third deals with the future and the idea that their love will last forever.  These references to time are combined with references to space.  One of the most clever aspects of the poem lies in the last stanza when the love between the two lovers is exemplified by  each lover seeing his/her own image reflected in the eyes of the other.  This beautiful image represents the union of the lovers and the paradox of "Let us possess one world; each has one and is one."

Read the study guide:
John Donne's Songs and Sonnets

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