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  1. 1. “Metaphysics in poetry is the fruit of the Renaissance tree, becoming over-ripe and approaching putrescence.” – C.S. Lewis Metaphysical poets did not call themselves by this name. Instead, they were labeled as such later by John Dryden and Samuel. This term has come to describe a shift in style of writing and subject of poetry, marked notably my John Donne and Andrew Marvell. The great Elizabethan poetry had tired out itself. The previous writing became seen as conventional and artificial. Because of this, metaphysical poetry moved towards a style that was intellectual, reason-oriented, and strange.
  2. 2. Metaphysical concerned with the fundamental problems of the nature of the universe and man’s function or place in life
  3. 3. The Metaphysical Poets • They used very unusual conceit. (next slide looks at this) • The poems rely on wit, displaying the poet’s sensitivity, knowledge, and cleverness. • It establishes connections between things that are totally different. • The language is simple (not overly decorated).
  4. 4. Conceit A conceit is a particular type of metaphor or simile that works to construct an imaginative poetic image, especially a comparison that is extreme or far-fetched. For example, “love is a rose” is a typical metaphor. Roses are red, which is related to the heart (often associated with love), has sweet smells, and is valued. However, comparing two lovers to a compass is a much more unusual relationship, which allows the writer to build meaning through an extended metaphor. We will see this used in “The Flea” by John Donne.
  5. 5. They didn’t follow the courtly love tradition. They approached the love as physical not platonic. Many poems begin in media res: in the middle of the action The use paradoxes, which positions things together that are apparently contradictory though in some sense true. They illustrate and develop ideas in a detailed and over-complex way, often with an effect of surprise. Unusual images are taken from all fields of knowledge: history, geography, astronomy, alchemy, mathematics, etc. Poems are often argumentative, establishing reasons as to why their observations are correct.
  6. 6. John Donne John Donne (1572 ~ 1631), is seen as the greatest representative of the metaphysical poets. He was born of a family with a strong Roman Catholic tradition. He was educated at the Trinity College, Cambridge.
  7. 7. In 1593, Donne’s brother Henry died of a fever in prison after being arrested. This made Donne begin to question his faith. In 1615 he gave up Catholic faith and entered the Anglican Church and soon became Dean of Saint Paul's Church. As a well-known preacher during the time, he wrote many religious sermons and poems. And these were known as his sacred verses.
  8. 8. Do your own quick wikipedia search on Andrew Marvell
  9. 9. Tips to Analyze a Metaphysical Poem: (With Examples from "To His Coy Mistress“ by Andrew Marvell) 1. Define unfamiliar words and identify allusions (there will be many). Example: What does it mean to be coy? When the speaker mentions the conversion of the Jews, is he suggesting a long time or a short time for that to happen? 2. Identify the speaker and subject. Example: Is anyone named? What did the beloved likely say or do to lead the speaker to make his plea? 3. Identify the poem's central argument. Example: What does the speaker want from his beloved? Why does he think he deserves her affection (now!)? What is he trying to convince the reader to believe? 4. Use close-reading techniques to further unpack layers of meaning within the poem. (Next lecture note)
  10. 10. The presentation was edited and made by the following: • aphysical-poetry-basics/ • metaphysical-poets?from_search=10 • 13-metaphysical-poetry • aheta/metaphysical-poet-john- donne