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John Donne is best known Met. Poet 17 TH Century poets rejected Elizabethan lyric poetry and wrote in the manner of everyday speech. “Metaphysical” refers to abstract or theoretical thinking Metaphysical poetry experiments with language in imaginative ways. METAPHYSICAL POETRY PG. 449.

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METAPHYSICAL POETRY PG. 449


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metaphysical poetry pg 449

John Donne is best known Met. Poet

  • 17TH Century poets rejected Elizabethan lyric poetry and wrote in the manner of everyday speech.
  • “Metaphysical” refers to abstract or theoretical thinking
  • Metaphysical poetry experiments with language in imaginative ways
METAPHYSICAL POETRY PG. 449
metaphysical poetry

Metaphysical conceit—an extended metaphor that makes a surprising connection between two quite dissimilar things. Example pg. 449

  • Does not contain the words like or as
  • Paradox—a statement that seems contradictory but nevertheless suggest a truth. Example pg. 450
METAPHYSICAL POETRY
metaphysical poetry1

The Flea

  • Metaphoric conceit: Connecting and comparing the seduction of a woman to the biting of a flea
  • Do you see the connection?
METAPHYSICAL POETRY
metaphysical poetry2

Here we go:

  • The flea has bitten and sucked fluid from both their bodies
  • Therefore their bodily fluids have already mixed together within the belly of the flea
  • Donne suggest the sucking flea has joined the lovers as a minister might join them in the holy union of marriage
METAPHYSICAL POETRY
elements of metaphysical poetry

Simple, conversational diction

  • Complex sentence patterns
  • Themes are often philosophical
  • Conceits that compare dissimilar things
  • Paradoxes—contradictory statements
  • Disruptions in poetic meter
  • Witty and imaginative wordplay (puns)
ELEMENTS OF METAPHYSICAL POETRY
john donne

Roman Catholic

  • Married w/out permission—lost his job
  • Later became Protestant (Anglican Priest)
  • His life was full of paradox
  • “married passion to reason”
John Donne
holy sonnet 10

“Death, be not proud…”

  • Tone—Defiant, confident, bold
  • Personification—Death as a person—begins w/an apostrophe or address to death
  • Those whom Death thinks it kills actually do not die; Death cannot kill me.
  • Paradox explained—Those who die find eternal life in Heaven; live on in memory; poets live through their poetry
HOLY SONNET 10
meditation 17 pg 455

All mankind is of one author and is one volume; when one man dies, one chapter is not torn out of the book, but translated into a better language; and every chapter must be so translated.

  • God is the one author, he translates some pieces in the form of age, sickness, war, and justice.
Meditation 17 pg 455
meditation 17 pg 4551

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...any man's death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind...

  • Thus, with the recurring imagery of the island and the mainland, John Donne affirms that no one man can exist on his own, cut off from all the rest of society; there are no human islands.
  • Isolation—controlling image
Meditation 17 pg 455
meditation 17 pg 4552

Perchance he for whom this bell tolls, may be so ill, as that he knows not it tolls for him; and perchance I may think myself so much better than I am, as that they who are about me...may have caused it to toll for me...and therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee.

  • Donne returns again and again to the imagery of the tolling funeral bell associating it with the idea of Death and Mortality. (controlling image)
Meditation 17 pg 455