what is metaphysical poetry? What are its characteristics?

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wannam eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Metaphysical poetry usually refers to the works of several 17th century British poets.  The most commonly known is John Donne; however, there are several others that fall into this category as well.  These poets used turns of wit, metaphors, and conceits to look at philosophical, abstract, and intellectually fanciful ideas.  Characteristics of these poems often included a deep and particular since of wit expressed in odd metaphors or similes.  These poets were wildly different from the others of their time.  They did not write about nature or mythological connections, but rather they wrote about metaphysical concepts.  They were prompted by the new science of the time and often fueled by religious convictions to look a how the things of this world would translate into the eternal world.  The poem "Death be not Proud" by John Donne illustrates some of these metaphysical ideals.