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Cavalier & Metaphysical Poetry. During the English Renaissance, two major groups of poets emerged : Metaphysical poets Mainly middle class Cavalier poets Often aristocrats supported the monarchy of Charles I (his court known as Cavaliers) “Tribe” or “Sons of Ben”

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Cavalier & Metaphysical Poetry


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During the English Renaissance, two major groups of poets emerged:

    • Metaphysical poets
      • Mainly middle class
    • Cavalier poets
      • Often aristocrats
      • supported the monarchy of Charles I (his court known as Cavaliers)
      • “Tribe” or “Sons of Ben”
        • most talented Cavalier poets—Sir John Suckling, Robert Herrick, and Richard Lovelace
        • modeled themselves after poet Ben Jonson
cavalier poetry
Cavalier Poetry
  • Sought to entertain, rather than provoke, their audiences
  • Employed a conversational style that followed natural speech patterns
  • Used regular rhythmic patterns in their writing
  • Used elaborate conceits, or complicated metaphors (like the metaphysical poets)
cavalier poetry1
Cavalier Poetry
  • Highly influenced by the classical Greek and Roman style
    • Subject matter usually revolved around romantic love
    • Used classical women’s names in their poetry
  • Often expressed a philosophy or theme called carpe diem - “seize the day”
    • popularized by poet Horace
    • encourages people to make the most out of every moment because of life’s inherent uncertainty
civil war in england
Civil War in England
  • Mid-1600s - between the Royalists and the Parliamentarians (Roundheads)
  • King Charles I sentenced to death
  • Puritan leader Oliver Cromwell - new leader of England
  • Cavaliers, supporters of the monarchy, disappeared from the public eye
  • Monarchy restored in 1660 with the coronation of Charles II
  • Only member of “Tribe” who survived this era was Robert Herrick.
metaphysical poetry
Metaphysical Poetry
  • Early seventeenth century
  • Highly intellectual and philosophical
  • Marked by unconventional imagery
  • Shunned regular meter or rhyme schemes
  • Drew metaphors from philosophy, theology, and science, rather than nature
  • Emphasized analyzing emotion, not expressing it
  • Dealt with darker subjects and thus demanded more from the reader
metaphysical poets
Metaphysical Poets
  • Major poets - John Donne, George Herbert, Richard Crashaw, and Andrew Marvell
  • Neoclassicist Samuel Johnson called these poets “unnatural” and gave metaphysical poetry its name.
  • Influenced by Elizabethan poets but reacted against their rules and regulations
metaphysical poets1
Metaphysical Poets
  • Used darker subject matter, unlike Elizabethan poetry
  • Explored meaning of life and the individual’s relationship with God
  • Were torn between the dictations of the church and their own intuitions
  • Wrote many sermons, prayers, and other religious works
metaphysical poetry1
Metaphysical Poetry
  • Appeals to the intellect
    • Exaltation of wit, which in the 17th century meant a nimbleness of thought; a sense of fancy (imagination of a fantastic or whimsical nature); and originality in figures of speech
    • Complicated terminology often drawn from science or law
    • Often poems are presented in the form of an argument
metaphysical poetry2
Metaphysical Poetry
  • Conceits
    • complicated and often paradoxical metaphors causing a shock to the reader by the strangeness of the objects compared
    • Examples: lovers and a compass, the soul and timber, the body and mind
  • “Plain style” language - unlike Elizabethan “high style,” or ornate use of language
    • Direct, not flowery, language provoked the mind as well as the heart.
metaphysical poetry3
Metaphysical Poetry
  • Term coined by Samuel Johnson
    • Used it as a disparaging term
    • Thought them to be too proud of their wit
    • Valued the clarity, restraint and shapeliness of the poets of Augustan Rome
  • Not until twentieth century was their unconventional style recognized as an important landmark in the history of English literature