Metaphysical poetry - PBworks

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Metaphysical poetry Unknown artist (Ehglish School). Portrait of John Donne, 1631. National Portrait Gallery, London. 1

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CTS 2006/2007Portrait of John Donne, 1631.
National Portrait Gallery, London.
after the things of nature
Physical = the material or actual
1. Meaning of metaphysical
in the sense that it was about non-
material and supernatural things.
1. Meaning of metaphysical
place in life
• Reflected the intellectual and spiritual crisis of the 17th century
2. Main characteristics
Isaac Oliver, 1616.
Metaphysical poetry
• The poet was a man of “wit”, displaying his sensitivity, his
knowledge and cleverness
The poet proposes something that he wants to happen,
realizes it is not likely to occur, and offers up solution.
2. Main characteristics Metaphysical poetry
An elaborate, exaggerated metaphor, usually
strained or far-fetched in nature, comparing two
incredibly dissimilar things.
If they be two, they are two so
As stiff twin compasses are two,
Thy soul the fixed foot, makes no show
To move, but doth, if th’other do. (John Donne, A Valediction: Forbidding Mourning)
The poet compares the souls of lovers to compasses
Illustrates and develops ideas in a detailed and
over-complex way, often with an effect of shock
or surprise
Metaphysical poetry
geography, astronomy, alchemy, mathematics, etc.
Look, and tomorrow late, tell me,
Whether both the Indias of spice and mine
Be where thou left’st them, or lie here with me.
Ask for those kings whom thou saw’st yesterday,
And thou shalt hear, All here in one bed lay.
(John Donne, The Sun Rising)
2. Main characteristics Metaphysical poetry
Nor ever chaste, except you ravish me.
(J. Donne, Batter my heart)
2. Main characteristics
• A statement which is apparently contradictory though in some sense
as in line 15 "two hundred [years] to adore each breast”
(Andrew Marvel)
• A gross exaggeration, as in Marvel’s poem “To His Coy Mistress”
Metaphysical poetry
(John Donne)
Imperative Voice:
• Expressing a command or plea such as in the poem “Song”
Metaphysical poetry
• Most poems begin in medias res (Latin: in the middle)
Go, and catch a falling star,
Get with child a mandrake root,
Tell me, where all past years are
(John Donne, Song)
human form or other characteristics to anything other
than a human being. Examples include depicting deities
with human form and ascribing human emotions or
motives to forces of nature, such as hurricanes or
in storytelling, and also in art. Most cultures have
traditional fables with anthropomorphised animals, who
can stand or talk as if human, as characters.
3. Literary Terms Metaphysical poetry
using an apostrophe, detaches himself from the reality
and addresses an imaginary character in his speech.
• It is important not to confuse the apostrophe which is a
figure of speech and the apostrophe which is a
punctuation mark (‘). It shows possession or a mark to
indicate omission of one or more letters (contractions)
while apostrophe used in literature is an arrangement of
words addressing a non-existent person or an abstract
idea in such a way as if it were present and capable of
understanding feelings.
• Hyperbole
• I slurped up over a mile of the delicious angel hair pasta
and did not plan on stopping.
• I walked into the boys gym and the pungent aroma of
sweaty teenage armpit punched me in the nose.
• Paradox
– My teacher said he hates kids
– The Walking Dead
• Imperative Voice
• Hyperbole
I am left in rapt by a single phrase.
To waste any verse on uncaring souls,
Would be to throw your pearls before swine.
• Paradox
Find me the song that makes me sing my heart’s cry flee.
The love she had for me felt endless, but was limited for our chaste
• Conceit
• Hyperbole
• Paradox
• Conceit