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Metaphysical Poetry on Love. John Donne and Andrew Marvell. Outline. An Example first: “Valediction: Forbidding Mourning” – Watch out for logical transition , original figurative language (conceit) Platonic Love Metaphysical Poetry Defined Metaphysical Poetry in Context. Simile.

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Metaphysical Poetry on Love


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    1. Metaphysical Poetry on Love John Donne and Andrew Marvell

    2. Outline • An Example first: “Valediction: Forbidding Mourning” –Watch out for logical transition, original figurative language (conceit) • Platonic Love • Metaphysical Poetry Defined • Metaphysical Poetry in Context

    3. Simile A VALEDICTION FORBIDDING MOURNING ASvirtuous men pass mildly away,      And whisper to their souls to go,  Whilst some of their sad friends do say,     "Now his breath goes," and some say, "No."                      So let usmelt, and make no noise,       No tear-floods, nor sigh-tempests move ; 'Twere profanation of our joys      To tell the laity our love.  Proposition Melt: disappear as if by dissolving

    4. Metaphor A VALEDICTION FORBIDDING MOURNING Moving of th' earthbrings harms and fears ;     Men reckon what it did, and meant ;                  But trepidation of the spheres,    Though greater far, is innocent.  Dull sublunary lovers' love      —Whose soul is sense—cannot admit  Of absence, 'cause it doth remove   The thing which elemented it.  But we by a love so much refined,     That ourselves know not what it is,  Inter-assurèd of the mind,      Care less, eyes, lips and hands to miss.                           Explanation

    5. A VALEDICTION FORBIDDING MOURNING Our two souls therefore, which are one,  Though I must go, endure not yet  A breach, but an expansion,      Like gold to aery thinness beat.  If they be two, they are two so     As stiff twin compasses are two ;  Thy soul, the fix'd foot, makes no show      To move, but doth, if th' other do.  And though it in the centre sit,      Yet, when the other far doth roam,      It leans, and hearkens after it,     And grows erect, as that comes home.  Such wilt thou be to me, who must, Like th' other foot, obliquely run ; Thy firmness makes my circle just,       And makes me end where I begun. Elaboration and Conclusion Obliquely: not straight, devious

    6. "A Valediction: Forbidding Mourning" : Platonic Love Form: nine four-line tetrameter stanzas, rhyming abab, cdcd, and so on.   How does the speaker compare the love of him and his lover with that of "laity" (l. 8) or "dull sublunary lovers" (13)? e.g. the difference of their parting movements like those of earthquake and the movement of heavenly spheres (stanza 3); the difference of their attitudes toward parting (stanzas 4 and 5). • Out of sight, out of mind; • Departure as expansion, love made truer through trials.

    7. "Valediction“ (告別辭) = farewell utterances Parting compared to – • death of virtuous men, • movement of heavenly spheres, • the beating of gold foil • The two feet of a compass What do you think about the idea of having one foot fixed in the center, while the other making a circle around?

    8. Donne’s Neo-Platonic Love • the preeminence of soul over body, the distinction between love and lust, and the goodness of striving for perfection through devotion to a woman's beauty. • Source (1) Plato– beauty proceeds in a series of steps • from the love of one beautiful body • to that of two, • to the love of physical beauty in general, and ultimately to beauty absolute “the source and cause of all that perishing beauty of all other things."

    9. Donne’s Neo-Platonic Love • Source (2) the Renaissance Platonic lover– • Christianized by equating this ultimate beauty with the Divine Beauty of God, • move in stages through the desire for his mistress, whose beauty he recognizes as an emanation of God's, to the worship of the Divine itself.  • embraces sexuality (the mystical union of souls) which is directed to an ideal end.

    10. Having inherited a considerable fortune, young "Jack Donne" spent his money on womanizing, on books, at the theatre, and on travels. Secret marriage in 1601, which got him imprisoned. Donne had refused to take Anglican orders in 1607, but King James persisted, so finally Donne gave in. (source) Started to write holy sonnets after the death of his wife in 1617. John Donne (1572-1631)

    11. The Flea: Starting Questions • (note) • How is the flea used in the speaker’s persuasion of his lady to go to bed? Describe the speaker's tone. • Why does the speaker say that to kill the flea would be "three sins in killing three"? • In the third stanza, the woman has killed the flea. What is the speaker's response to that? Does he change his position? • How would you argue against the speaker if you were the lady?

    12. The Flea MARK but this flea, and mark in this,How little that which thou deniest me is ;It suck'dme first, and nowsucks thee, And inthis fleaour twobloods mingled be.Thou know'st that this cannot be saidA sin, nor shame, nor loss of maidenhead ;    Yet this enjoys before it woo,    And pamper'd swells with one blood made of two ;    And this, alas ! is more than we would do. 1. The flea –where two bloods mingle; before wooing pregnancy before marriage

    13. The Flea (2) O stay, three lives in one flea spare,Where we almost, yea, more than married are.This flea is you and I, and thisOur marriage bed, and marriage temple is.Though parents grudge, and you, we're met,And cloister'd in these living walls of jet.    Though use make you apt to kill me,    Let not to that self-murder added be,    And sacrilege, three sins in killing three. (use = habit) 2. The flea –three lives; marriage bed and temple killing the flea = refusing sex = self-murder, killing me and sacrilege = and 3 sins

    14. The Flea Cruel and sudden, hast thou sincePurpled thy nail in blood of innocence?Wherein could this flea guilty be,Except in that drop which it suck'd from thee?Yet thou triumph'st, and say'st that thouFind'st not thyself nor me the weaker now.'Tis true; then learn how false fears be ;Just so much honour, when thou yield'st to me,Will waste, as this flea's death took life from thee.

    15. The Flea -- Notes: • the 17-century idea was of sex as a "mingling of the blood“: It was believed that women became pregnant when the blood of the man (present in his semen) mixed with her blood during sexual intercourse. • The Flea -- "Fleas were a popular subject for jocose [humorous] and amatory [love] poetry in all countries at the Renaissance". Their popularity stems from an event that happened in a literary salon (a place where poets and others came to recite poetry and converse). The salon was run by two ladies, and on an occasion a flea happened to land upon one lady's breast. The poets were amazed at the creature's audacity, and were inspired to write poetry about the beast. (source)

    16. The Flea -- as a Metaphysical Conceit • The Flea: Flea= sex as no loss > Flea = Church, etc. > Flea = no loss • this mingling of blood, causing a “swell”  3 lives • more than married  the flea as their temple and bed; we “cloister'd in these living walls of jet” • Killing the flea: 1) kill three lives, a "sacrilege" ; 2) kill/lose nothing, just as your losing your virginity

    17. The Flea -- the other poetic device • Iambic, three nine-line stanzas, identical in form. . (The first six lines alternate, triameter, then tetrameter, rhyming aabbcc. The seventh line is trimeter, the eighth and ninth, tetrameter. ddd). • Direct address and Casual tone: Mark but this flea... • Repetition: And mark in this • Imagery: religious (church, cloysterd, sacrilege, three sins in killing three - more holy trinity imageryblood of innocence ) and sexual (mingle) • Argument: sophistry-- Circular argument. The flea starts and ends as nothing.

    18. Andrew Marvell (1621-1678) • Marvell was engaged in political activities, taking part in embassies to Holland and Russia and writing political pamphlets and satires. • A controversial person (one with a sense of balance and fairness; a bad-tempered, hard-drinking lifelong bachelor) and an unclassifiable poet

    19. HAD we but world enough, and time, This coyness, Lady, were no crime We would sit down and think which way To walk and pass our long love's day. Thou by the Indian Ganges' side Shouldst rubies find: I by the tide Of Humber would complain. I would Love you ten years before the Flood, And you should, if you please, refuse Till the conversion of the Jews. My vegetable love should grow Vaster than empires, and more slow; An hundred years should go to praise Thine eyes and on thy forehead gaze; Two hundred to adore each breast, But thirty thousand to the rest; An age at least to every part, And the last age should show your heart. For, Lady, you deserve this state, Nor would I love at lower rate. Premise 1: time and space enough “To his Coy Mistress”

    20. But at my back I always hear Time's wingèd chariot hurrying near; And yonder all before us lie Deserts of vast eternity. Thy beauty shall no more be found, Nor, in thy marble vault, shall sound My echoing song: then worms shall try That long preserved virginity, And your quaint honour turn to dust, And into ashes all my lust: The grave 's a fine and private place, But none, I think, do there embrace. Now therefore, while the youthful hue Sits on thy skin like morning dew, And while thy willing soul transpires At every pore with instant fires, Now let us sport us while we may, And now, like amorous birds of prey, Rather at once our time devour Than languish in his slow-chapt power. Let us roll all our strength and all Our sweetness up into one ball, And tear our pleasures with rough strife Thorough the iron gates of life: Thus, though we cannot make our sun Stand still, yet we will make him run. “To his Coy Mistress”

    21. Questions • What is the main argument and how is it developed? • What conceits and other poetic devices are used?

    22. Argument: carpe diem • or "seize the day" -- • a very common literary motif in poetry. • emphasizes that life is short and time is fleeting as the speaker attempts to entice his listener, a young lady usually described as a virgin. • frequently use the rose as a symbol of transient physical beauty and the finality of death. • e.g.

    23. Argument: carpe diem • To Virgins, To Make Much Of TimeRobert Herrick • Gather ye rosebuds while ye may,    Old Time is still a-flying;And this same flower that smiles today,    To-morrow will be dying. [. . .]

    24. Argument -- If we lived forever there would be no need to hurry. However, we do not live forever. Therefore we must seize the day. Imagery: Praising “forever”and slowly –images of space and time alternate with each other. “mortality” –marble vault; images of sterility, rotting corpses, tombs, and a shocking denial of the procreative activity of sex. Seize the day– images of transience and daring action Argument and Imagery

    25. Rather at once our time devour Than languish in his slow-chapt power. Let us roll all our strength and all Our sweetness up into one ball, And tear our pleasures with rough strife Thorough the iron gates of life Devour –eat up time quickly and at a large amount each time. Like birds of prey (hawks) eat up their prey (rabbits) unthinkingly and instinctively Rolled into one Ball –sexual act Gates of life – inevitable aging process and difficulties which lead us to death. Imagery of action

    26. Metaphors vegetable love –slow and quiet. Time’s wing’s chariot Gates of life Paradox -- tearing "pleasures“ with "strife" Conceit & Hyperbole – the use of large space and time to woo slowly. Marble vault as both the grave and the sexual organ. Pun—sun/son; run (go faster, run away) Metaphors and Conceits

    27. Metaphysical Poetry Defined • Spirit + Matter • The exaltation of wit, which in the 17th century meant a nimbleness of thought; a sense offancy (imagination of a fantastic or whimsical nature); and originality in figures of speech • Often poems are presented in the form of an argument • In love poetry, the metaphysical poets often draw on ideas from Renaissance Neo-Platonism to show the relationship between the soul and body and the union of lovers' souls • They also try to show a psychological realism when describing the tensions of love.

    28. Metaphysical Poetry Defined 5. Use of ordinary speech mixed with puns, paradoxes and conceits • Metaphysical Conceit: a paradoxical and extended metaphor • causing a shock to the reader by the strangeness of the objects compared; e.g: departure and death, beating of gold foil, lovers and a compass) • Abstruse terminology often drawn from science or law http://www.eng.fju.edu.tw/English_Literature/period/metaphysicals.html

    29. Metaphysical Poetry in Context • The European baroque period (1580 to approximately 1680): extravagance, psychological tension, theatricality, eccentricity, and originality of its creations (in all artistic media), as well as for the quirkiness and intricacy of its thought • the seventeenth century in England, a time of radical changes in politics (e.g. Puritan revolution, Civil war, execution of Charles I  Restoration) and modes of literary expression. For a while during the Commonwealth Period (1649-1660), drama disappeared, public theaters closed because of fears of immoral influences, and incendiary (煽動者 ) political pamphlets circulated.

    30. Metaphysical Poetry in Context Peter Paul Rubens Garden of Love c.  1638 Museo del Prado, Madrid http://www.eng.fju.edu.tw/English_Literature/17th_c/paintings/rubens.htm -- The colors are soft and warm, light, gay, ripe, and sensous.  -- The figures melt into each other in a soft, flowing rhythm.  ... -- The courtly man in the broad-brimmed hat