Metaphysical Poets John Donne and Beyond. Who are the Metaphysical Poets? The Metaphysical poets...
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Metaphysical PoetsJohn Donne and Beyond
Who are the Metaphysical Poets?
• The Metaphysical poets were a group of poets who wrote during the late 16th and early 17th century.
• The most important poet of this movement was John Donne.
What is Metaphysical Poetry?
• The Metaphysical poets introduced a fresh approach to poetry.
• They rejected the flowery imagery of their predecessors, such as Spenser and Shakespeare.
• Instead they sought to concentrate on clearly defined topics, often of a religious interest.
• A conceit is an extended metaphor that governs a poetic passage or entire poem.
• By juxtaposing and manipulating images and ideas in surprising ways, a conceit invites the reader into a more sophisticated understanding of an object of comparison.
•Whereas Renaissance poets often use metaphors, their comparisons were often clichéd (i.e.: love and a rose).
•Metaphysical conceits, however, compare two things that are vastly different (i.e.: God’s generosity and a bottle).
The Renaissance vs. The Restoration
• Elizabethan literature generally reflects the exuberance of a nation expanding its powers, increasing its wealth, and keeping at bay its serious social and religious problems.
• Disillusion and pessimism followed, however, during the unstable reign of James I (1603–25). The 17th century was to be a time of great upheaval—revolution, regicide, and the restoration of the monarchy.
• 1572-1631• He was born into a
prominent Roman Catholic family but eventually abandoned Catholicism.
• Many of his poems are religious or philosophical in nature.
John Donne In 1601, he married 17-year-old Anne
More without her father’s consent, a serious crime against church and state
Donne arrested, jailed, and dismissed from his position
Studied civil and religious law after getting out of jail
Donne and Anne lost their money and had to live off friends and relatives; they had 12 children, five of whom died in infancy
Donne’s Style Donne based the rhythm and sounds
of his poems on colloquial English; his poetry reveals spoken language much more that Shakespeare’s.
Speaker in poems frequently sounds bitter, blunt, angry, thinking out loud. Sometimes speaker almost seems to be lecturing the woman he is addressing.
Begins one poem “For God’s sake hold your tongue and let me love.”
Donne’s Style• All of Donne's verse—his love sonnets
and his religious and philosophical poems—is distinguished by a remarkable blend of passion and reason.
• His love poetry treats the breadth of the experience of loving, emphasizing, in such poems as “The Ecstasie,” the root of spiritual love in physical love.
• The devotional poems and sermons reveal a profound concern with death, decay, damnation, and the possibility of the soul's transcendent union with God.
Other Metaphysical Poets
• Ben Jonson (1572 –1637) was an English dramatist, poet, and actor.
• A contemporary of William Shakespeare, he is best known for his satirical plays and his lyric poems.
• A man of vast reading and a seemingly insatiable appetite for controversy, Jonson had great influence on Jacobean playwrights and poets.
Other Metaphysical Poets• John Milton (1608 –1674) was an English
poet and author. • He is best known for his epic poem,
“Paradise Lost.” • Milton was writing at a time of religious
and political flux in England, and his poetry and prose reflect deep convictions, often reacting to contemporary circumstances.
Other Metaphysical Poets• Robert Herrick (1591 –1674) was a 17th
century English poet. • Herrick became a member of the Sons of
Ben, a group centered upon an admiration for the works of Ben Jonson.
Other Metaphysical Poets
• Andrew Marvell (1621 – 1678) was an English poet.
• Marvell was a colleague and friend of John Milton.