Lecture Five Metaphysical poetry & John Donne (1572-1631)

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Lecture Five Lecture Five Metaphysical poetry & Metaphysical poetry & John Donne (1572-1631) John Donne (1572-1631)

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Transcript of Lecture Five Metaphysical poetry & John Donne (1572-1631)

  • Lecture FiveMetaphysical poetry & John Donne (1572-1631)

  • Terms The metaphysical poetry is commonly used to name the work of the 17th century writers who wrote under the influence of John Donne.

  • John Donne(1572-1631) is noted for his excellent love poetry, religious verse and sermons. As one of the most important poets of the Renaissance, he is also the leading figure of the metaphysical school. With a rebellious spirit, Donne broke away from the "decorative and flowery" verse that characterized most poetry during the Elizabethan period to develop his own unique style.

  • Characteristics of metaphysical writers

  • Theme: they wrote on a variety of religious and secular themes. The poems reflect a broad knowledge of science, art and other branches of learning and express common human feelings such as jealousy, the loss of religious faith, the complexities and the fear of death.Rhetorical devices: they used conceits and paradox. The finest of metaphysical poets combined intellectual subtlety with great emotional power.

  • Paradox:() is a figure of speech consisting of a statement which seems self-contradictory, absurd or contrary to an established fact or practice, but on further thinking and study may prove to be true, well-founded, and even to contain a succinct() point.

  • Example 1: Juliet: My only love sprung from my only hate. 2. This suspense is terrible. I hope it will last (Oscar Wilde) 3. Death, thou shalt die.

  • A conceit() is a combination of thoughts or images that are not usually associated with one another. In general, a metaphysical conceit will use some sort of shocking or unusual comparison as the basis for the metaphor. When it works, a metaphysical conceit has a startling appropriateness that makes us look at things from an entirely new perspective. The classic metaphysical conceit is Donnes comparison of the union between the two lovers to the two legs of a compass in A Valediction Forbidding Morning.

  • Characteristics of Donnes poems1. the most striking feature of Donnes poetry is precisely its tang (characteristic) of reality in the sense that seems to reflect life in a real rather than a poetical world.

  • 2. Donnes language is subtle, complex, and often startling. Besides allusions, he frequently applies wild conceits, i.e. extended, fanciful metaphors that make a surprising or unexpected comparison and Paradox, self-contradiction that reveals a kind of truth. His conceits may be divided into two kinds: easy ones and difficult ones. By combining the easy conceits with the difficult ones, Donne achieves surprisingly good effects in his poetry.

  • 3. Donne's poetry involves a certain kind of argument(), sometimes in rigid syllogistic form .

  • Death be not proud, though some have called theeMighty and dreadful, for, thou art not so,For, those, whom thou think'st, thou dost overthrow,Die not, poor death, nor yet canst thou kill meFrom rest and sleep, which but thy pictures be,Much pleasure, then from thee, much more must flow,And soonest our best men with thee do go,Rest of their bones, and soul's delivery.Thou art slave to fate, chance, kings, and desperate men,And dost with poison, war, and sickness dwell,And poppy, or charms can make us sleep as well,And better than thy stroke why swell'st thou thenOne short sleep past, we wake eternally,And death shall be no more Death, thou shalt die.

  • ThemeThis is one of Donnes 19 holy sonnets, which were believed to have been written before his ordination. The poem reveals his belief in life after death. Here death is compared to a short sleep. Death is but momentary while happiness after death is eternal. But this religious idea is curiously expressed in the authors supposed dialogue with death, as various reasons are given in the poem to argue against the common belief in death as mighty and dreadful .In this way the sonnet was a typical work of the school of metaphysical poetry.

  • FormThis simple sonnet follows an ABBAABBA CDCDEE rhyme scheme and is written in a loose iambic pentameter. In its structural division of its subject, it is a Petrarchan sonnet rather than a Shakespearean one, with an octet establishing the poems tension, and the subsequent sestet resolving it.