Characteristics of Metaphysical Poets
Metaphysical poets belonged to the 17th century. The works of the metaphysical poets are marked by philosophical exploration, colloquial diction, ingenious conceits, irony and metrically flexible lines.
They wrote poems on love, religion and mortality. The metaphysical poets described these topics through unusual comparisons, frequently employing unexpected similies and metaphors in displays of wit. John Donne is the foremost figure along with George Herbert, Andrew Marvell, Abraham Cowley, Richard Crashaw and Henry Vaughan.
Conceit is a striking, strained or affected mode of expression. Conceits are common in Elizabethan poetry and metaphysical verse. Metaphysical conceits are bolder and more ingenious. For example, Donne in one of his poems The Flea uses “stiff twin compasses” to express the souls of two lovers.
A) Delight in novel thought and expression:
The Metaphysical poets desired “to say what they hoped had been never said before”. They had their own thoughts and they worked out their own manner of expressing them. They played with thoughts as Elizabethans had played with words. Wit is the salient feature of Metaphysical poetry.
The Metaphysical poets try to find a connection between the abstract and the concrete, the remote and the near in describing his experience of emotional reality. For example: when Donne in “A Valediction forbidding Morning” compares the “twin souls” of the lovers to “stiff twin compasses”.
Read Also: Metaphysical poetry and its characteristics
B) Far-fetched sensibility:
Metaphysical poets create wild conceits. The poets ransack all fields of knowledge, science as well as nature for comparisons. They try to yoke together contradictory things. They link two different areas of experience. The true function of Metaphysical conceit is to join the parts of a fractured world.
C) Affectation and Hyperbole:
In good Metaphysical poetry, the Hyperbole is never superficial. It always has been a favourite device of the poets and they used it purposively.
In Andrew Marwell’s poem “To His Coy mistress” the poet begins with a series of hyperbole in the praise of the lady.
D) Obscurity and Vague:
The Metaphysical poets combine dissimilar ideas without attempting to unite them. The real obstacle in understanding metaphysical poetry is its novelty. They try to yoke together dissimilar experiences. They use private symbolism, which the reader find difficult to understand.
E) Dramatic Realism :
The Metaphysical poets used brilliant conceits apart from direct speech. They used colloquial language to bring about the dramatic realism.
Donne is foremost in using dramatic realism in his poems.
Metaphysical poets were the men of learning and they wanted to show it through their poetry. Metaphysical poetry is laden with the poet‟s scholarship. As Dr Johnson says no man could be born metaphysical poet.
Read Also :
- “Daddy” by Sylvia Plath – Critical Analysis
“Daddy” by Sylvia Plath: A Critical Analysis Sylvia Plath writes her poem “Daddy” to communicate her deep feelings about her father’s life and death, as well as her terrible marriage….
- “The Garden”, by Andrew Marvel – Summary
"The Garden", by Andrew Marvell, is one of the most famous metaphysical poems of the seventeenth century. This poem was likely written in Marvell’s final years, when he had retired from tutoring Mary Fairfax, daughter of Thomas Fairfax (whom he addresses in Upon Appleton House, to my Lord Fairfax) who, in turn, was a General in the army of Oliver Cromwell.
- “The Little Black Boy” by William Blake Summary and Solved Questions
“The Little Black Boy” by William Blake About the poem A black child tells the story of how he came to know his own identity and to know God. The…
- “The Ultimate Friendship Quiz: How Strong is Your Relationship?”
“The Ultimate Friendship Quiz: How Strong is Your Relationship?” Friendship is an important part of our lives and can bring joy, support, and connection. A strong and close friendship is…
- “Three Years She Grew in Sun and Shower”by William Wordsworth
“Three Years She Grew in Sun and Shower”by William Wordsworth Summary of the Poem “Three Years She Grew in Sun and Shower” is one of the best ‘lucy poems‘ written…