Monday, 25 March 2013

Project 1 cont'd.

Metaphysical poets.

'Good Morrow' by John Donne. Available here.

This passage from SparkNotes (2002) gives a concise explanation of the metaphysical poetry.

'Metaphysical poetry typically employs unusual verse forms, complex figures of speech applied to elaborate and surprising metaphorical conceits, and learned themes discussed according to eccentric and unexpected chains of reasoning. Donne’s poetry exhibits each of these characteristics. His jarring, unusual meters; his proclivity for abstract puns and double entendres; his often bizarre metaphors (in one poem he compares love to a carnivorous fish; in another he pleads with God to make him pure by raping him); and his process of oblique reasoning are all characteristic traits of the metaphysicals, unified in Donne as in no other poet.'

 It is interesting to see how, with the arrival of the metaphysical poets in the late sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries, poetry develops away from historical 'story-telling' and into the expression of complex and conflicting personal emotions. The work of John Donne is so different from the previous poems I've looked at so far for the course-work. Donne and other metaphysical poets (Andrew Marvell, George Herbert, Robert Herrick, etc)  write about the experience of being human in a subjective way whereas it seems to me that the previous poets were writing in a more objective manner.
    Allegory and 'extraordinary' metaphor are integral to the poems and are known as 'conceits'( SparkNotes Editors 2002). Such artful and intellectual use of language carried poetry to a more highly specialised art form in its own right although the future Neo-classicists referred to conceits as 'an abuse of the metaphor' ( Ambiguous metaphor, jarring meter and satire and irony were often featured.
   Although the actual poems don't particularly inspire me I find myself engaging with the way language is used in the work of the metaphysical poets. I like the cleverness behind it and the disregard for existing 'rules' and classical style. I recognise the capturing of the essence of emotion and experience. It seems that the poets ability to convey the subjective experience is important to my own enjoyment of reading poetry which is an interesting discovery. Previously I would like or dislike without determining why, and when I dislike something I rarely bother to continue reading it. I'm finding it useful and enlightening to analyse my reactions to different types of poetry, as well as learning much about the contextual influences on each poetic style.


SparkNotes Editors. 2002. SparkNote on Donne’s Poetry.  Available at (accessed March 14, 2013).

No comments:

Post a Comment