[ppt]metaphysical poetry - ms. guillen's english classes - viewmetaphysical poetry the metaphysical...
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The term "metaphysical" refers to philosophical speculations beyond the sensory: notions such as time, God, human nature, faith, death, love, eternity
Existing in the material world
(above or beyond)
The metaphysical poets is a term coined by the poet and critic Samuel Johnson to describe a loose group of English lyric poets of the 17th century whose work was characterized by the inventive use of elaborate comparisons and by speculation about topics such as love or religion. These poets were not formally affiliated; most of them did not even know one another or read one anothers work.
Major Metaphysical Poets
John Donne (15721631)
George Herbert (15931633)
Andrew Marvell (16211678)
Saint Robert Southwell (c. 15611595)
Henry Vaughan (16221695)
Anne Bradstreet (American) 1612-1672
Edward Taylor (American) 1642-1729
What They Do
Metaphysical poets attempt to explain the emotional and spiritual elements of life in concrete, rational and logical terms.
They attempt to define our sentiments by logical syllogisms or in scientific terms.
Many of the poems are built up on a logical structure (this is sometimes called dialectic - a use of argument whereby a statement is given, then challenged to provide a new conclusion). They challenge our intellect ,and this is a key aspect of the pleasure of reading metaphysical poetry.
Use of Paradox
A paradox is a statement that appears to be self-contradictory but actually reveals a new and important truth. The Christian idea that we can only gain our life by losing it is an excellent example of a paradox.
Verbal Skill and Wit
The Metaphysicals loved puns and clever plays on words
Hyperbole over exaggeration
The metaphysical conceit (aka the controlling metaphor
Like similes and metaphors, a conceit establishes a relationship between two things for the sake of comparison, but for a conceit the comparison has to be strange or outrageous. A conceit is also often elaborate and extended as the points of comparison and contrast are worked out by the poet.
No Man Is an Island
No man is an island, entire of itself;
every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main.
If a clod be washed away by the sea, Europe is the less, as well as if a promontory were, as well as if a manor of thy friends or of thine own were:
any mans death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind,
and therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee.
Make a Conceit
Life is a highway.
I am going 100 miles an hour.
Now add to it
Memento Mori latin for remember that you must die orin mind of death
An obsessive awareness of death and human mortality, often presented in the visual art of the day in the form of a "memento mori" or a skull painted at the side of paintings to remind viewers of the brevity and vanity of human life.
Closely related to the memento mori is the theme of carpe diem, seize the day.
Imagery and Comparisons
Tne Metaphysicals drew their imagery and comparisons from a variety of sources, including
Kingship and rule
Poetry on the Literature Test
AP Literature Test