MetaphysicalUnknown artist (Ehglish School).Portrait of John Donne, 1631.National Portrait Gallery, London. poetry
Metaphysical poetry 1. Meaning of metaphysical METAPHYSICAL concerned with the fundamental problems of the nature of the universe and man’s function or place in life Only Connect ... New Directions
Metaphysical poetry 2. Main characteristics • Reflected the intellectual and spiritual crisis of the 17th century. • The poet was a man of “wit”, displaying his sensitivity, his knowledge and cleverness. • The leading poet was John Donne. John Donne, after a miniature by Only Connect ... New Directions Isaac Oliver, 1616.
Metaphysical poetry 2. Main characteristics • A particular type of metaphor or simile called conceit: 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. Only Connect ... New Directions
Metaphysical poetry 2. Main characteristics The conceit Insists on the relationship between A (the tenor) and B (the vehicle) Illustrates and develops ideas in a detailed and over-complex way, often with an effect of shock or surprise Only Connect ... New Directions
Metaphysical poetry 2. Main characteristics • Unusual images taken from all fields of knowledge: history, 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) Only Connect ... New Directions
Metaphysical poetry 2. Main characteristics Paradox: • A statement which is apparently contradictory though in some sense true: Take me to you, imprison me, for I Except you enthral me, never shall be free, Nor ever chaste, except you ravish me. (J. Donne, Batter my heart) Only Connect ... New Directions
Metaphysical poetry 2. Main characteristics • Dramatic quality • Most poems begin in medias res: Go, and catch a falling star, Get with child a mandrake root, Tell me, where all past years are (John Donne, Song) Only Connect ... New Directions