The Metaphysical poets were a loose group of British lyric poets of the 17th century, who shared an interest in Metaphysical concerns and a common way of investigating them. The term “Metaphysical can be interpreted as beyond (Meta) Physical nature (Physical). Dryden was the first to use the term in connection with Donne by saying that he “affects the metaphysics”. Dr. Samuel Johnson later described Donne and his followers as the metaphysical poets. The most important metaphysical poets are John Donne, Andrew Marvell, Henry Vaughan, George Herbert, Thomas Traherne, Abraham Cowley and Richard Crashaw. These poets themselves did not form a school or start a movement; Most of them not even know or read each other. Their rigorous verse appeals to the reader’s intellect rather than emotion. Their style was characterized by wit, subtle arguments, metaphysical conceits and an unusual simile or metaphor.
By itself, Metaphysical means dealing with the relationship between spirit to matter or the ultimate nature of reality. The metaphysical poets are obviously not the only poets to deal with this subject matter. Therefore some special features or characteristics of the metaphysical poetry are as follows:
- Use of ordinary speech mixed with puns, paradoxes and conceits (a paradoxical metaphor causing a shock to the reader by the strangeness of the subjects compared, some examples, lovers and a compass, the soul and timber, the body and mind.)
- The exaltation of list which is the 17th century meant the nimbleness of though, a sense of fancy (imagination of a fantastic or whimsical nature.)
- Abstruse terminology often drawn from science or law.
- Often poems are presented in the form of an argument.
- In love poems, 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.
Metaphysical concerns are the common subject of their poetry, which investigates the world by rational discussion of its phenomenal rather than by intuition or mysticism. Dryden was the first to apply the term to 17th century poetry when , in 1693, he criticized Donne. He affects the Metaphysical nature in his amorous verses, where nature only should reign; and perplexes the minds of the fair sex with nice speculations of philosophy, when he should engage their hearts. He disapproved of Donne’s stylistic excesses, particularly the extravagant conceits (or witty comparisons) and his tendency towards hyperbolic abstractions. Johnson consolidated the argument in THE LIVES OF POETS, where he noted (with reference to Cowley) that about the beginning of the seventeenth century appeared a race of writers that may be termed the Metaphysical poets. He went on to describe the far fetched nature of their comparisons as a kind of Discordia concurs. A combination of dissimilar images or discovery of the practice Johnson condemned would include the extended Donne’s comparison with love with astrology and Marvell’s comparison of soul with drop of dew.
Reacting against the deliberately smooth and sweet tones of much 16th century verse, the metaphysical poets adopted a style that is energetic, uneven and rigorous. (Johnson decried its roughness and violation of decorum, the deliberate mixture of different style.) it has also been labeled the ‘poetry of strong lines’. From the contribution of metaphysical poets, we see elaboration of our thought, so the contributions of metaphysical poets are indeed very important in the history of literature.
JOHN DONNE (1572-1631)
LIFE SKETCH OF JOHN DONNE
John Donne was born in Bread Street, London in 1572 to a prosperous Roman Catholic family –a precarious thing at a time when anti-catholic sentiment was rife in England. His father, John Donne was a well-to-do Ironmonger and citizen of England. Donne’s father died suddenly in 1576, and left the three children to be raised by their mother, Elizabeth, who was the daughter of epigrammatist and playwright John Heywood and. Sir Thomas More.
Donne’s first teacher was Jesuits. At the age of 11, Donne and his younger brother Henry was entered Hart Hall, University of Oxford, where Donne studied for three years. He spent the next three years at the University of Cambridge, but took no degree at either University because he would not take the Oath of Supremacy required at the graduation. He was admitted to study law as member of Thavies Inn (1591) and Lincoln’s Inn (1592), it seemed natural that Donne should embark upon a legal or diplomatic career.
In 1593, Donne’s brother Henry died of fever in prison after being arrested for giving sanctuary to a proscribed catholic priest. This made Donne being to question his faith. His first book of poems, satires, written during this period of residence in London, is considered one of Donne’s most important literary efforts. Although not immediately published, the volume had a fairly wide readership through private circulation of the manuscript. Same was the case with his love poems, songs and sonnets, assumed to be written at about the same time as the satires.
Having inherited a considerable fortune, young “Jack Donne” spent his money on womanizing, on books, at the theatre, and on travels. He had also befriended Christopher Brook, a poet and his roommate at Lincoln’s Inn. Ben Johnson was a part of Brook’s circle. In 1596, Donne joined the naval expedition that Robert Devereux, 2nd Earl of Essex led against Cadiz, Spain. In 1597, Donne joined an expedition to the Azores, where he wrote “The Calm”. Upon his return to England in 1598, Donne was appointed private secretary to Sir Tomas Egerton, Lord Keeper of the Great Seal, afterwards Lord Ellesmsre.
Donne was beginning a promising career. In 1601, Donne became MP for Brackley, and sat in Queen Elizabeth’s last parliament. But in the same year, he secretly married Lady Egerton’s niece, seventeen year old Anne More, daughter of Sir George More, Lieutenant of the Tower, and effectively committed career suicide. Donne to the livid father saying:
“Sir, I acknowledge my fault to be so great as I dare scarce any other prayer to you in mine own behalf than this, to believe that I neither had dishonest end nor means. But for her whom I tender much more than my fortunes or life (else I would, I might neither joy in this life nor enjoy the next) I humbly beg of you that she may not, to her danger, feel the terror of your sudden anger.”
Sir George had Donne thrown in Fleet prison for some weeks, along with his cohorts Samuel and Christopher Brookes who had aided the couple’s clandestine affair. Donne was dismissed from his post, and for the next decade had to struggle near poverty to support his growing family. Donne later summed up the experience as: “John Donne, Anne Donne and Undone.” Anne’s cousin offered the couple refuge in Pyrford, Surry and the couple was helped by friends like Lady Magdalen Herbert, George Herbert’s mother, and Lucy , Countess of Bedford, woman who also played a prominent role in Donne’s literary life. Though Donne still had friends left, these were bitter years for a man who knew himself to be the intellectual superior of most, knew he could have risen to the highest posts, and yet found no preferment. It was not until 1609 that reconciliation was effected between Donne and his father-in-law, Sir George More was finally inducted to pay his daughter’s dowry.
In the intervening years, Donne practiced law, but they were the lean years for the Donnes. Donne was employed by the pamphleteer Tomas Morton, later Bishop of Durham. It is possible that Donne co-wrote or ghost-wrote some of Morton’s pamphlets (1604-1607). To this period, before reconciliation with his in-laws, belong Donne’s divine poems (1607) and Biathanatos (published in 1644), a radical piece for its tome, in which that suicide is nit a sin in itself.
As Donne approached forty, he published two anti-catholic polemics Pseudo-Martyr (1610) and Ignatius his Conclave (1611). They were final public testimony of Donne’s renunciation of the Catholic faith. Pseudo-Martyr, which held that, English catholic could pledge an oath of allegiance to James I, king of England, without compromising their religious loyalty to the Pope, won Done the favor of the King. In return for patronage Sir Robert Drury of Hawstead, he wrote, A Funeral Elegy (1610), on the death of Sir Robert Drury’s 15 year old daughter Elezabeth. At this time, the Donnes took residence on Drury Lane. The two anniversaries – An Anatomy or the world (1611) and of the Progress of the Soul (1612) continued the patronage. Sir Robert encouraged the publication of the poems : The First Anniversary was published with the original elegy in 1611, and both were reissued with The Second Anniversary in 1612.
Done had refused to take Anglican orders in 1607, but King James persisted, finally announcing that Donne would receive no post of preferment from the King, unless in the Church. In 1615, Donne reluctantly entered the Ministry and was appointed a Royal Chaplain later that year. In 1616, he was appointed Reader in Divinity at Lincoln’s Inn (Cambridge had conferred the degree of Doctor of Divinity on him two years earlier). Donne’s style, full of elaborate metaphors and religious symbolism, hid flair for drama, his wide learning and his quick wit soon established him as one of the greatest preachers of the era.
Just as Donne’s fortunes seemed to improving, Anne Donne died on 15th August, 1617, aged thirty three, after giving birth to their twelfth child, a stillborn. Seven of their children survived their mother’s death. Struck by grief, Donne wrote the seventeenth Holy Sonnet, “Since she whom loved hath paid her last debt.” According to Donne’s friend and biographer, Izaak Walton, Donne was thereafter “ crucified to the world” . Donne continued to write poetry, notably hi Holy Sonnet (1618), but this time for love songs was over. In 1618, Donne went as Chaplain with the Viscount Doncaster in his embassy to the German princes. His Hymn to Christ at the Author’s Last Going into Germany, written before the journey, is laden with apprehension of death. Donne returned to London in 1620, and was appointed Dean of Saint Paul’s in 1621, a post he held until his death. Donne excelled at his post, and was at last financially secure. In 1623, Donne’s eldest daughter, Constance, married the actor Edward Alleyn, then 54.
Donne’s Private meditations, Devotion upon Emergent Occasion, written while he was convalescing from a serious illness, were published in 1624. The most famous of these is undoubtedly Meditation 17, which includes the immortal lines “No man in an island” and “Never send to know for whom the bell tolls; It tolls for thee.” In 1624, Donne was made Vicar of St. Dunstan’s in the West. On March 27, 1625, James I died and Donne preached his first sermon for Charles I. but for his ailing health, ( he had mouth sores and had experienced significant weight loss ) Donne almost certainly would have become a Bishop in 1630. Obsessed with the idea of death, Donne posed in a shroud – the painting was completed a few weeks before his death, and later used to crest an effigy. He also preached what was called his own funeral sermon, Death’s
Duel, just a few weeks before he died in London on March 31st, 1631. The last thing Donne wrote just before his death was Hymn to God, In My Sickness. Donne’s monument, in his shroud, survived the great fire of London and can still be seen today at St. Paul’s.
GEORGE HERBERT (1593-1633)
OUTLINE OF HERBERT’S LIFE
With the context of contemporary events
- Herbert born (3rd April) in Montgomery in Wales, the fifth son of the Richard and Magdalen Herbert. Izaak Walton born. Death of Marlowe. Hooker’s of the Laws of Eclesiastical polity (Book I – VI) published.
- Sidney’s Apology for Poetry and Spencer’s Amoretti and Epithalamion published. Midsummer Night’s Dream first acted.
- Herbert’s father dies; survived by his wife Magdalen, Seven sons, and three daughters. The eldest son Edward matriculates at University College, Oxford. Spencer’s Faerie Queen (Book IV – VI) published; also his four Hymns. The Merchant of Venice first acted.
- Bacon’s first ten essays published.
- Edward Herbert marries a cousin, Mary Herbert. Oliver Cromwell born. Death of Spencer. Julius Caesar and Henry V first acted.
- Death o Hooker. Fairfax’s translation of Tasso published. Hamlet first acted.
- Execution of Essex. Lancelot Andrews appointed Dean of Westminster, Donne marries Anne More. Twelfth Night first acted.
- Death of Elizabeth I; accession of James I. The Millinery Petition.
- Richard Bancroft appointed Archbishop. The Hampton Court Conference. Othello first acted.
- Herbert attends Westminster school. Bacon’s Advancement of learning published. The Gunpowder Plot. Sir Thomas Brown born.
- Macbeth, Johnson’s Volpone and Turner’s Revenge Tragedy first acted.
- Milton born. Robert Cecil created Earl of Salisbury, appointed Lord Treasurer. Sylvester’s translation of Du Bartas; its complete edition. Herbert’s mother marries Sir John Danvers.
- Herbert matriculates at Trinity College, Cambridge. Spencer’s Faerie Queen: its full edition. Shakespeare’s sonnets published.
- Johnson’s Alchemist first acted; also Shakespeare’s Winter’s Tale (1611). Galileo reports on his telescopic view of the heavens.
- George Abbot appointed Archbishop. The King James (Authorized) Version of The Bible published. The Tempest first acted. Chapman’s Iliad completed.
- Death of the heir apparent Prince Henry; Herbert contributes two Memorial poems in Latin, his first verses to be published. Death of Salisbury.
- Princess Elizabeth marries Frederick Elector Palatine. Sir Thomas Overbury murdered, Crashaw born. Nicholas Ferrar visits Continent (to 1618).
- Raleigh’s History of the world published. Webster’s Duchess of Malfi first acted.
- Donne ordained. George Villiers, later Duke of Buckingham, in favor.
- Death of Shakespeare. Herbert elected major fellow of Trinity College, Cambridge. Johnson’s works published.
- Death of Donne’s wife.
- Herbert appointed Reader in Rhetoric at Cambridge. Raleigh executed. Bacon appointed Lord Chancellor. Cowley born.
- Edward Herbert appointed Ambassador in Paris. Lancelot Andrews appointed Bishop of Winchester.
- Herbert elected public orator at Cambridge (to 1628). Settlement of first New England colony by the pilgrim Fathers. Bacon’s Novum Organgram published.
- Bacon Impeachment. Donne appointed Dean of Paul’s. Burton’s Anatomy of Melancholy published. Marvell born.
- Henry Vaughan born.
- The first Shakespeare Folio published.
- Herbert elected to represent Montgomery in Parliament (also in 1625). Edward Herbert’s De Veritate published in Paris.
- Death o James; accession of Charles I who marries Henrietta Maria of France. Outbreak of plague. Nicolas Ferrar settles at Little giddying in Huntingdonshire. Bacon dedicates his Translation of Certain Psalms to Herbert. Death of Webster.
- Herbert presented to a pre-bend in Huntingdonshire; four miles from Little giddying. Death of Bacon; Herbert contributes a memorial poem in Latin. Death of Lancelot Andrews. John Aubrey born.
- Death of Herbert’s mother; the funeral sermon delivered by Donne, was accompanied when published by commemorative poems including Herbert’s Memoriae matris sacrum.
- Buckingham assassinated. William Harvey’s discovery of the circulation of the blood published. Bunyan born.
- Marriage of Herbert to his stepfather’s cousin Jane Danvers. Edward Herbert elevated to the peerage as Lord Herbert of Cherbury. Lancelot Andrews’ XCVI sermons published.
- Herbert instituted to the rectory at Bremerton near Salisbury in April; ordained priest in September. Prince Charles (later Charles II) born. Emigrations to New England.
- Death of Donne. Dryden born.
- Crashaw visits Little Giddying.
- Charles I visits Little Giddying. William Laud appointed Archbishop. Donne’s poems published. 1st March Herbert’s death, of consumption; just before his fortieth birthday.
ANDREW MARVELL (1621-1678)
Chronology of Important Date
1621 Born at Wine Stead-in-Holderness, Yorkshire, March 31 to the Rev. Andrew Marvell and his wife, Anne.
1624 Marvell’s move to Hull, where Rev. Andrew Marvell becomes lecturer in Holy Trinity Church.
1633 Marvell matriculates at Trinity College, Cambridge.
1637 Greek and Latin poems on Charles I and Queen Mary published.
1638 Marvell becomes a scholar of Trinity.
1640 Father dies. Marvell leaves Cambridge.
1640 – 42 Possible clerkship in trading house of brother in law, Edmund popple.
1642 – 46 Travel abroad as tutor.
1648 – 49 Poems of Villiers, Lovelace, Hastings.
1650 An Horatian Ode on Cromwell’s return from Ireland.
1650 – 53 Tutors Mary, daughter of the Lord General Fairfax, at Appleton house, Yorkshire.
1653 Milton’s letter to Bradshaw recommending Marvell for government position, February 21. No appointment forthcoming, Marvell becomes tutor to Cromwell’s ward, William Dutton. Lives at Eton.“The character of Holland.”
1653 – 54 Latin poems on Queen Christina of Sweden, Dr. Ingelo.
1655 The first anniversary of Government Under His Highness The Lord Protector.
1656 Marvell and Dutton at Saumur, France.
1657 Marvell becomes Latin Secretary under Secretary of State Thurloe.
1658 A poem upon the death of His late Highness of the Lord Protector.
1659 – 78 Marvell serves as M.P. for Hull.
1660 Intervenes in Commons to save Milton.
1663 – 65 Accompanies Earl of Carlisle as secretary on embassy to Russia, Sweden and Denmark.
1665 England provokes war with Holland. “The second Advice to a painter.”
1666 “The Third Advice to a Painter.” “Clarendon’s Housewarming.”
1667 “The last instruction to a painter.” Downfall of Clarendon. War ends.
1670 On Blood’s Stealing the Crown.
1672 The declaration of Indulgence. The Rehearsal Transposed.
1672 – 74 War with France as ally against Holland. Marvell as “Mr. Thomas” active in Dutch-based anti-French, anti-Catholic fifth column.
1674 Second edition of Paradise Lost, prefaced by Marvell’s poem.
1676 Mr. Smirke or The Divine in Mod.
1677 The growth of Popery and Arbitrary Government.
1678 Marvell elected younger warden of Trinity House, London. Dies August 18.
1681 Miscellaneous poems published by Mary Marvell.
HENRY VAUGHAN (1621 – 1695)
HENRY VAUGHAN CHRONOLOGY
1621 Henry Vaughan and twin brother Thomas born at Newton upon Breconshire, USA; probably the oldest surviving children of Thomas Vaughan of Tretower and Denise Morgan.
1628 William, their brother, born.
1632 Henry and Thomas Vaughan under the tuition of Matthew Herbert a Langat tock.
1638 4 May, earliest evidence of Thomas Vaughan’s residence at Jesus College, Oxford. It has been assume that Henry wet to Oxford at the same time, although there is no record of his residence there.
1640 Leaves Oxford for London to study Law.
1642 Returns to Breconshire as secretary to judge Lloyd.
1646 Henry probably married (to Catherine Wish) by this date. He had a son, Thomas and three daughters, Lucy, Frances and Catherine, by his first marriage. Poems with the Tenth Satire o Juvenal English published.
1647 17 December, Dedication of Olor Iscanus Dated, more that three year before publication.
1648 July, William Vaughan dies.
1650 First part of Silex Scintillans published. Thomas evicte from his living at Llansantffraed.
1651 Olor Iscanus (poems with four pose translation) published. Registered April 28th. September, Thomas Vaughan marries Rebecca.
1652 The Mount of Olives or Solitary Devotions published.
1653 13 September, Charles Walbeoffe dies, Vaughan’s cousin, neighbor and close friend.
1654 Flores Solitudinis published.
1655 Henry marries Elizabeth Wise, younger sister of his first wife. He had a son, Henry and three daughters Grisell, Lucy and Rachel by his second marriage.
1657 The Chemist’s Key published.
1658 17th April, Rebecca, Thomas Vaughan’s wife, dies. Thomas, Henry Vaughan’s father dies in early summer.
1660 Thomas Powel, neighbor and close friend dies.
1661 Thomas Powel’s Humane Industry published, containing some of Vaughan’s verse translations.
1666 27th February, Thomas, Henry Vaughan’s brother, dies at Asbury, near Oxford.
1673 June, Beginning of the surviving correspondence between Henry Vaughan and John Aubrey, the biographer.
1678 Thalia Rediviva, containing poems by both Henry and Thomas. Published.
1689 Henry and Elizabeth Vaughan move to a cottage in Scethrog to vacate the house at Newton, where he was born and lived for most of his life in favor of Thomas, Henry’s son by first marriage.
1695 23rd April, Henry Vaughan dies. Buried in Llansantffraed churchyard.
CONTRIBUTION OF JOHN DONNE AS A METAPHYSICAL POET
The term “metaphysical” can be interpreted as beyond (meta) physical nature (physical.) Dryden was the first to use the term in connection with Donne by saying that he “affects the metaphysics”. Dr. Samuel Johnson later described Donne as his followers as the “metaphysical poetry”. Implies the characteristics of complexity, intellectual tone, abundance of subtle tome, conceits (which are always witty and sometimes fantastic), scholarly allusions, dramatic tone and philosophic or reflective element.
According to J. C. Grierson, “Metaphysical poetry, in the full sense of the term, is a poetry which has been inspired by a philosophic conception of the universe and the role assigned to human spirit in the great drama of existence “. Intellect and wit are among the most striking ingredients of metaphysical poetry, though not its exclusive property. A successful metaphysical poem interweaves those two qualities with its emotional effects in such a way that we are compelled to recognize the tremendous importance of though is poet’s achievement.
Donne is the classic representative of this kind of poetry. He was a man whose instinct compelled him to bring the whole of experience into his verse and choose the most direct and what, for his learned and fantastic mind, was the most natural form of expression. He is colloquial, elevated, slangy, rhetorical, erudite, familiar all in the same brief poem; and he takes his language from the court and the camp from the jargon of the law, from the study and from the market place. The curious combination of qualities, it is interesting to note can be found alike, in his youthful love poems and in the passionate religious poems of his later life.
When, therefore, we speak of Donne as a metaphysical poet, we generally have in mind the combination of passion and thought which characterizes his work. Closely connected with this quality is his use of conceits which are often witty and sometimes fantastic. His hyperbolas are outrageous and paradoxes astonishing. He mixes facts and fancy in a manner which astounds us. He fills his poem with learned and often obscure allusions. Besides, some of his poems are metaphysical in philosophical and reflective sense, and they deal with concerns of the spirit or soul.
Actually, the term “metaphysical” is a new approach in the history of English literature. Donne is considered as the father of metaphysical poetry because of handing the application of far-fetched conceits, colorful imagination, amorous love, hyperbolic thoughts and philosophical ides. Donne as the innovator of metaphysical poetry does not follow the conventional system of writing poetry. He appears on the literacy stage as rebel and reformer. In his poetry, we find the depth of philosophy, subtlety of reasoning, a blend of emotion and thought, light and seriousness, passion and intellect, imagination and realism, which of course, bring variety, newness and richness.
John Donne’s work can be classified into love poetry, religious poetry, elegies and satires. His love poems, the songs, the sonnets are intensely personal. Here the mood of a lover is expressed in a vivid language. Among his best known poems and songs are: The Good Morrow, The Sun Rising, The Flea, Canonization, The Relic, The Ecstasy, Twicknum Garden, Air and Angel, A Valediction of Weeping, A Valediction Forbidding, Morning Song, Go and Catch a Falling Star etc. Among all the metaphysical poets, Donne’s poems of course reveal the sense of uniqueness, universality, intellect and artistic thought. As a sensual poet, he dreams the love affairs with his beloved which is, in fact, impossible in reality.
His poetic philosophy is so profound and meaningful that it has far-reaching effect on the mind of the reader.
All these characteristics need to be illustrated by his works. The Good Morrow is a poem of passion and is the brightest and artistic love poem of John Donne. But its intellectual character is no less evident. The poem is one long argument to prove that the poet and his beloved are passionately in love. What did the lovers do before they loved? Did they feed themselves on country pleasures or did they snort in the seven sleeper’s den? And here a fanciful conceit is introduced. All the woman whom the poet has loved before were mere anticipation of his present beloved. More conceits follow, but without the argument being shelved. Each off the lover is a whole world to the other, and their little room is a kind of everywhere. Not only that, the lovers are the best possible hemisphere who make us a complete world. These lovers can never die because they love each other with an equal intensity. The intellectual images arise an emotional situation so intricately woven with thought as expressed in the very first line of the poem (The Good Morrow)
“I wonder by my troth what thou and I
Did, till we loved?”
In this poem, the poet metaphysically defines two kinds of love, physical and spiritual. In the last stanza of the poem, the mentality of the lover and the beloved is passionately expressed all to prove that the world of love is more important than the geographical world:
“My face in thine eye, thine in the main appears
And true plain hearts do in the face rest
Where can we find better hemispheres
Without sharp north, without declining west.”
The last two lines of this poem are also the passionate of their immortal love
“If our loves be one or thou and I
Love so alike that none do shaken, none can die.”
As a passionate and sensuous poet, expressed his passionate appeal in the poem The Sun Rise. But here also the poet argues and reasons. The poet and his beloved have no reason to feel afraid of the sun that has risen, because love does not recognize season or climate. A series of fanciful and fantastic conceits follow to prove that the sun has no power over the lovers. The poet can eclipse and cloud the beams of the sun, while the dazzling lights of the beloved’s eyes can blind the sun. in the poem, he is devoted to his beloved so passionately that he does not hesitate to rebuke the sun that was disturbing them by shining to that particular room where the poet and his beloved amorously embracing each other. In this context he says:
“Busy old fool, unruly sun,
Why dost thou thus
Through windows, and through curtains call on us?”
The lover and the beloved are compared to all the states and all the princes of the world, rolled into one:
“She’s all states and all princes, I,
Nothing else is.”
The last two lines of the poem The Sun Rising are also hyperbolic expression of having far-fetched imagery and conceits:
“Shine here to us, and thou art every where;
This bed thy centre is, these walls thy sphere.”
Donne has written a poem about a flea (fly). What can be more real than such a subject? Donne’s flea does not remain a flea for long, it has bitten and sucked the blood of both the poet and his beloved which is expressed through some universal lines of the poem The Flea :
“Me it sucked first and now sucks thee,
And in this flea, our two bloods mingled be;”
The flea is a symbol of the poet’s passionate plea for physical and sensuous love. Donne, however, makes a plea for physical union, which is necessary for spiritual love. Donne’s originality and intensity makes a powerful lyric. Grierson observes: “It is a strange choice to our mind, but apparently the poem was greatly admired as a masterpiece
Donne goes a step farther. The flea is regarded as the marriage bed, as also the marriage temple for the poet and his beloved who are now cloistered in the body of the insect. The killing of the flea will mean destroying three lives; those of the poet, his beloved and the insect. It will also be an act of sacrilege because a temple will be decoyed. In this respect Donne’s far fetched conceit and comparison is deflected in the following lines:
“The flea is you and I, and this
Our marriage bed, marriage temple.”
Donne arrests our attention both by dramatic style in many of his poems. This is specially apparent in the abrupt, conversational opening in his poem Canonization.
“For God’s sake hold your tongue and let me love.”
In this poem the poet seems to be more passionate and profound in making love with his beloved. In fact, he wants to continue his love affairs with his beloved. But some of his friends advised him not be passionately involved in love. We see mingling of passion thought in this poem. The supreme feeling of satisfaction in love is expressed in the following lines:
“Call us what you will, we are made by such love
Call her one, me another fly,
We are tapers too, and our own cost die……
We can die by it, if not live by love.”
Donne is metaphysical in a literal sense too. He speaks of the soul and spiritual love. Air and Angel is a metaphysical poem in the sense, even though it is necessary for the soul to assume a body in order to be able to act. The poem has a subtlety which defies analysis. The conceits in it are extremely abstract. But it is a passionate utterance by the poet:
“Twice or thrice had I love thee,
Before I knew thy face or name.”
Truly speaking Donne’s metaphysical conceit is again reflected in his famous poem The Relic. The poet has really revealed the real nature of a woman. He thinks that woman have no objection to receive one after another in her bed as we see in case of grave. The poet says,
“When my grave is broke up again
Some second guest to entertain.”
A Valediction: Forbidding Mourning is another personal poem showing the pure love and devotion of the poet to his beloved. In this poem, the separation of husband and wife is like the movement of one leg of the compass while other leg is fixed at the centre. The poem indicates the journey of the poet to a foreign country while his wife is at London like the fixed foot of the compass. Actually, the poet wants to express that two lovers may be separated but their souls remain united. Donne says,
“If they be two, they are two so
As stiff twin compasses are two,
Thy soul the fixed foot, makes no show
To move, but doth, of the other do.”
In the poem, Twicknam Garden Donne’s frustration and dejection is really very heavy and intolerable because he does not get any positive response from his beloved. It is a song of sorrow pervaded by nothing except the bleakness of despair. It expresses the anguish of a lover’s heart who has fallen a prey to sorrow and who can’t drown it even in nature. For its somber atmosphere and intensity of grief, the poem has not been surpassed by any lyric in English poetry. It has a passionate outburst of sorrow expressing yearning for unfulfilled love. The lady to whom it is addressed was never in love with Donne. With sigh and shedding tears Donne says,
“Make me a mandrake, so I may groan here,
Or a stone fountain weeping out my year.”
In its poignancy of sorrow, the poem remind us of Keats’ La Belle Dame Sans Merci and Shelly’s lyric, A window bird sat morning. We find the same bleakness, loneliness and dry unrelenting aspect of a laden skied winter. The poem is steeped in grim overwhelming despair, the poet says that the love between he and his beloved is nothing but the spider and serpent’s love. The poet strikes a piercing note of sadness in the last two lines of the poem-
“O perverse sex, where none is true but she,
Who’s therefore true, because her truth kills me.”
In A valediction: of weeping, the note of passion is intense and concentrated and burst forth in such fanciful conceits as:
a) “When a tear falls, that thon falls which it bore.”
b) “Oh move than Moon
Draw not up seas to drown me in the sphere.
Weep me not dead, in thine arms,”
c) “Since thon and I sigh one another’s breath.”
But there are highly intellectual conceits too. The poet speaks of the cartographic who depicts Europe, Africa and Asia on a map and who thus “makes that which was nothing at all, in the same way each tear of the beloved is a globe, a world. “The tears of lovers” said Dr. Johnson in his ironical comment on this poem, “are always of great poetical account; but Donne has extended them into world, this poem has a profundity of thought and feeling . Donne is always trying to put into words a feeling which overflows expression.”
Concentration is an important quality of metaphysical poetry in general and Donne’s poetry in particular. In all his poems, the reader is held one idea or one line of argument. His poems are brief and closely woven. In The Ecstasy, for instance, the principal argument is that though the different act of love the function of man as man brings worthily performed. The poet developed the theme without dispersion. It is a complex metaphysical poem dealing with the twin specs of love, physical and spiritual. Some critics like Legouis find in it a plan seduction with emphasis on the physical nature of love, while other like Helen Gardener find in it an affirmation of spiritual love. In fact, it deals with relationship with the body and the soul in love, for reconciling the dichotomy between the flesh and the sensuous and the sublime, particularly in this poem, Donne deserves the credit. The poet enthusiastically says, when love brings the souls together, it imparts to them a great zeal and life. The stronger (or noble soul) supplements (or removes) the deficiencies of the lesser soul. Love also removes the feeling of loneliness felt by single souls:
“When love, with one another so
Interinanimates two souls,
The abler soul, which thence doth flow
Defects of loveliness controls.”
In the light of the above discussion, we come close to the deduction that Donne, indeed, represents very well the school of metaphysical poetry which is unique in his time. Intellect and wit blending with emotion and feeling which marks metaphysical poetry, no doubt, Donne is the master in that. He brought the whole oh his experience into his poetry. He is crudity, the monarch of wit, colloquial, rhetoric or familiar. He chooses his language from the court or the camp, the jargon of law study or the market place. These qualities are present in Donne’s poetry in the earliest of his love poems as well as in the later religious poems. Grierson aptly sums up:”Done is metaphysical not only by virtue of his scholasticism but by the deep reflective interest in the experiences of which he writes love or religion.”
So, in the metaphysical world, Donne is second to none. His mastery lies in the fact that he knows the art of applying far fetched imagery and conceit. As the representative of metaphysical poet, almost all of his poems claim to reach the towering position of perfection and newness.
CHARACTERSTICS OF DONNE’S POETRY
Ben Johnson followed meticulously classical rules in his poetic and dramatic work. He was a classicist. He was a champion of decorum, discipline, symmetry and regularity. So, he was not in favor of bold liberty as was taken up by Donne in his poetical composition. But Johnson appreciated Donne as well for revolting against Petrarchan conventions in Elizabethan poetry. Like Donne, Ben Johnson revitalized English lyric poetry which had lost its glamour, vitality and vigor, Donne as a first poet in some things. We have already discussed the greatness of Donne as a poet earlier; we here elaborate in outline the various aspects of his poetry indicating his greatness.
Donne was the first poet who included thought and idea in poetry side by side. Donne neglected the Elizabethan conventions straightway. He expressed his varying personal moods and idiosyncrasies. He infused the realistic mode of personal urge and immediacy in his lyrics. In the Middle ages, poetry was divorced from thought and reason. It was purely written for expressing emotions and feelings. Petrarchan influence was a predominant factor in Elizabethan poetry because of the advent of the Renaissance. Thus, by and by, the lyric poetry of Elizabethan era became vigourless and lifeless husks of mere conventions which were imitated without any symptom of personal urge. Donne’s lyric poetry is quite reverse to the prevailing traditions of Elizabethan age.
Originality in diction marks Donne’s poetry:
This originality ion diction includes words not merely from the vocabulary of science but from colloquialism. He selected colloquial diction which has vigor, freshness and originality. He discarded literary words and phrases which became rusty because of repetition.
Donne deliberately rejected the conventional conceits and images such as flowers, sky, moon, river and stream etc. He coined new images which were outcome of popular belief of scientific discoveries. In this respect, we can quote various examples from his poems on Donne’s diction and versification. His vocabulary is rich and diversified. It scrupulously avoids the hackneyed poetical and colorful words and expressions. He exploits the resources of the colloquial, trite and plebian words which may be unhesitatingly yoked with a set of learned technical terms, with a generous vision of verbal eccentricities, ambiguity and confusion. Consequently there is production of a bizarre effect. The vigor of colloquialism is evident in his poem “The Good Morrow” as the opening line gives :
“I wonder by my troth, what thou and I
Did till we lov’d……..”
Donne repudiated Elizabethanism in lyric poetry:
His rhythmical structure is the nature of the passion, feeling and mood and at the same time it is in perfect accord with limited number of moods of love as is the case with Elizabethan lyrics of love. While in Elizabethan lyric, there is the mood of despair and frustration in love and their themes are concerned with despondency and bewailing of the lover for the beloved, in the Donne lyric, there is the variety of moods, even the mood of fulfillment and joy of consummated love. He is the rust poet who has delineated ecstatic joy of fulfilled love in “The Sun Rising” “The Anniversary” and “Good Morrow”. Thus, everything contributes to the vigor and vitality of the poems. His songs are entirely different from those of the Elizabethan lyricists like Campion and Daniel.
Originality in imagery and use of sound:
Donne was the first English poet who has used the facts of scientific discoveries of his time in the poetry. The objects, which are utilized in the laboratories such as compasses, and the globe with the maps of earth pasted on it, and various other objects driven from various branches of science like biology, physics and chemistry etc.
The complexity of Donne’s personality and quick glancing flight of his fancy and jagged gyrations of his vigorous and all devouring wit bent and cracked not only the smooth surface of the conventional diction but also the rhythm of the conventional slow-moving and musical lines. He was creating the same revolution in the non-dramatic versification as was effected by the dramatists headed by Shakespeare in the structure of blank verse. The form was subjected to the changing configuration of meaning and thought, and rhythm of the lines was made to respond to the inflexions of the speaking voice and the impassioned eloquence of dialectical reasoning. If we examine the single lines, “The impression will be one of harshness and discord, but if we take the whole poem as a single entry it will be apparent that his discords are the harmonies not understood.”
Donne’s rhythmical effect:
Grierson has described him as of “the first masters of elaborate stanza or paragraph in which the discords of individual lines and phrases are resolved in the complex and rhetorically effective harmony of the whole group”. He plays with rhythmical effects as with ‘conceits’ and words and seems to be bent upon startling or even shocking the readers into alertness necessary for threading the labyrinth of his thoughts and arguments. His rhythm is an irritant or gadfly which goads the readers continually to move forward and then, all on a sudden, pulls him up sharp with some arresting term.
Various aspects of Donne’s imagery:
Originality, novelty and heterogeneous yoking together of the trite, the abstract and concrete, are the marks of his imagery which is drawn mostly from unexpected and un-poetical sources. His images are the manifestations of fantastic operations of his ‘wit’ to which feelings and passions are eventually subject. It may lead him to the hyperbole of imaging his mistress as more divine then and angel and a ‘bracelet’ of her hair as a holy relic apt to inspire idolatry and then descend to the level of anticlimax of comparing the lovers to compasses or making the flea a symbol of their heart’s union. When this fantastic wit is supported by passion the result, though disconcerting, is unique, unsupported by strong emotion, it comes perilously near the ridiculous.
One peculiarity of Donne’s imagery calls for special notice. He was most sensitive to the factual effect and his poems abound in shapes which are sharp, solid pointed and immediately apprehensible by touch. He was naturally attracted by mathematical analogies and geometrical and other scientific instruments which were calculated to reduce the mysterious universe to the solid and the tangible and make the infinity to contact within a span.
Donne’s revival in twentieth century:
The poetry and criticism of T. S. Eliot has brought the revival of Donne to full flowering. Eliot, ungrudgingly applied the poetic devices of Donne in his poetry of the Volumes of 1917 an 1920. He found his artistic devices indispensable for the contemporary poetic practice. Thus, he has been considered “the poet’s poet” in the history of English poetry. Other critics like Richards, Leavis, Herbert, Read, Emerson and Graves noted Donne’s poetry which possessed richness, vigor and vitality of living poetry. These critics exalted Donne, while Dryden and Dr. Johnson condemned and degraded him by their critical dictums. The definition of great poetry in the present century is that it is an expression of the whole experience which is a mixture of contradictory and opposed thoughts, feeling and sentiments. Donne’s rich imagery and conceits indicates his agility and vigilance of fertile mind which have deep rooted association with his feelings and experience. They indicate his sharp, all-inclusive, all-comprehensive wit. His poems, small as well as long, possess the unity which emerges out of the intensity of passion and of the conclusiveness of argumentation. He is a great metaphysical poet because of the rich themes of his poetry, as well as his treatment and structure. The themes of most of his poems are based upon religion and love and thereby indicate the deep-rooted relationship between body and soul and god, man and his own self. His poetic artifice is to put forth arguments in a controversial manner. Thus he shine on a firmament of the history of poetry not only in England but in the whole of European poetry.
The besetting sun of Elizabethan Lyricism, especially Spenserian, was its luxuriance and prolixity, the decorative, colorful and meretricious dressing of simple and plain ideas, which were almost concealed under the weight of collaborate rhetoric like idols in temples under the layers of floral offerings. Donne rescued the lyric from this suffocating ornamentation by wedding it to a passionate speaker which cuts at once to the very heart of the meaning.
USE OF CONCEITS IN DONNE’S POETRY
What is a conceit? A conceit is basically a simile, or u comparison between two dissimilar things. In a conceit, the dissimilarity between the things compared is so great that the reader is always fully conscious of it even while having to concede the likeness implied by the poet. Thus Dr. Johnson pointed out that in metaphysical poeliy, the most heterogeneous ideas are “yoked by violence together.” The observation is valid even if one does not agree with the derogatory tone with which Dr. Johnson invests the comment.
Far-fetched images, departing from the conventional Elizabethan type, mark Donne’s poems. Conceits may be brief like a spark made by striking two stones together as Helen Gardner remarks; or they may be elaborate and extended. In the latter case, the comparison is not confined to any single point; fresh points of likeness are drawn up and brought to the attention of the reader. The poet sets out to “prove” the likeness. An example is the comparison of the lovers to the two legs of a compasses in A Valediction: Forbidding Mourning. Another clever conceit is in The Flea where the flea becomes the marriage bed and marriage temple. The comparison is not obvious but the poet unfolds the likeness logically.
Metaphysical conceits are drawn from a wide range of subjects. Indeed, Nature and art are ransacked for illustrations, comparison and allusions. The images arc not conventional: they do not reiterate the well-worn poetic devices of the lady’s cheeks looking like roses or her teeth like pearls. The conceits employed by Donne are learned they display the poet’s thorough knowledge of a wide range of subjects such as science, mathematics, astronomy, and several others. The conceits thus gives the poetiy an intellectual tone. However, the intellectual conceits are not in disharmony with the feeling in the poem; they actually add weight and illustrate that feeling giving rise to the impression of what T.S. Eliot called “the unification of sensibility”.
In a single poem, we may have images drawn from cartography, geography, myth and natural science. A Valediction: Of Weeping employs images from a variety of sources. The lover’s tears are like precious coins because they bear the stamp of the beloved (an image drawn from mintage), the tears arc “pregnant of thee”-a complex image conveying the impression of the beloved’s reflection in the drop of tear along with the meaning and life given to the tears by the beloved’s reflection in them. Next, the beloved’s tears arc compared to the moon which draws up seas to drown the lover in her sphere (the image is drawn from geography). The images, especially in the context of love, are complex and surprising; but they are not devoid of giving pleasure.
In The Canonization, the lover and the beloved are flies and tapers in themselves. But the poem is remarkable for the use of the Phoenix riddle. The lovers, says Donne, provide a clue to the riddle because they arc one, combing both sexes in one entity, continually reviving after being consumed in the fire of their passion.
Reference to sea discoveries, new worlds and the hemispheres of the earth occur in most of Donne’s poems, reflecting contemporary explorations. In The Good Morrow there are images of sea discoverers traveling to new worlds, maps showing worlds on worlds, and the two hemispheres. In Hynm to God, my God again we have images of cosmographies, maps’ straits, and the Pacific sea; the language of exploration is used, to describe a spiritual condition.
Ptolemaic doctrine is also woven into much of Donne’s conceits as in Good Friday, the soul is compared to a sphere, and Donne treats die metaphor elaborately. Planetary motions arc brought into the. poem to illustrate feeling.
War and military affairs also provide a source for Donne’s conceits, not only in his love poems, but in his religious poems as well. In Batter my heart, he compares himself to a usurped town. At the same time there is an image drawn from the punfication of metals by knocking, blowing and shining it Later on, imagery usually associated with love is drawn upon to illustrate his spiritual prayer-he wants God to “ravish” him in order that he may be “chaste” In The Ecstasy there are several images which are startling for their unconventionality. The lovers’ souls are compared to two equal armies confronting and negotiating with each other Again, love without an outlet in physical expression is like a prince Ingesting in prison, says Donne Images cannot, however, be condemned for being farfetched. One can condemn images only if they arc grossly out of place or irrelevant m the context in which they are used In Donne’s poems, very seldom is an image used without relevance Where it seems startling at first sight, the poet sets out to establish its validity by logical steps. As a result, one feels admiration, an intellectual pleasure and a sense of surprise at the originality and ingenuity of the poet. Donne’s images stimulate one to think. They bong one to an awareness of the new angles from which an experience can be viewed in The Sun Rising, Donne calls the sun a saucy pedantic wretch and tells it to go and scold late schoolboys, and court huntsmen and country ants, and to leave the lovers alone. Hours, days and months are regarded as “rags” of lime. The attitude and images may not be conventional but their propriety in the context is undeniable. In Go and Catch a Failing Star a siring of unconventional imagery is used to emphasize the view that there is no woman in the world both beautiful and true. But again, one cannot condemn the imagery.
DONNE’S CONCEITS ARK FUNCTIONAL AND ARE USE TO ILLUSTRATE AND PERSUADE
They are, as Helen Gardner asserts, “instruments of definition in an argument or instrument to persuade.” The image is not a piece of decoration; it serves to illustrate or convince. A Valediction: Forbidding Mourning employs the compasses image elaborately. Donne sustains the comparison through the whole process of drawing a circle, because he is trying to give “proof by analogy” of the lovers’ union. He thus wants to persuade his mistress not to mourn. On a more frivolous level, in The Ftea he makes use of the conceit to persuade his beloved to give in to his entreaties. In 17’e Sun Rising, the poet and his mistress symbolize the whole world and all its rulers. Thus the sun, by shining on the small room, will be warming the whole world. That is a farfetched conceit, but we cannot deny the logical manner in which Donne has led up to it. He illustrates by means of it that love is supreme.
Donne’s use of conceits is ingenious; U is also, in most cases, appropriate. It makes us concede justness while we are admiring its ingenuity, as Helen Garden says. The poet has something to say which the conceit explicates or something to urge which the conceit helps to forward. “The purpose of an image in Donne’s poetry is to define the emotional experience by an intellectual parallel”, observes Joan Bennett. It has been pointed out by H.J.C. (hierson that Donne’s imagery brings together the opposites of life, all in one breath. But however far-fetched the conceits are, we cannot deplore them; we can merely admire their novelty, realism, justness and range.
DONNE AS A POET OF LOVE
hi his love-poetry John Donne revolted against the Petrarchan tradition. From the time of Wyatt, Surrey, and their contemporaries, English lyrical and amatory poetry had been flowing continuously in the Petrarchan channel. Spenser in The Shepherd’s Calendar and Sidney with his gallant and passionate sonnets to Stella followed the same tradition. Subsequently poets adopted the same vein in sonnet sequences, or in pastoral eclogues and lyrics. Of the joy of love, the deep contentment of mutual passion, they have little to say. They dwell on the pains and sorrows of love- the sorrow of absence, the pain of rejection, the incomparable beauty of the lady and her unwavering cruelty. And they dwell on these aspects of love in a series of constantly recurring images: of rain and wind, of fire and ice, of storm and warfare, comparisons with the sun and the moon, with earth’s and sea’s rich gems, with April’s first showers.
Donne was a rebel against the Petrarchan tradition in love poetry, with its lovers in flower gardens; its smooth lawns and gentle and murmuring streams; it goddesses of mythological and pastoral imagery; and its conventions of chivalry. Now, instead, we have a violent assertion of sexual realism. Donne is neither platonic nor ascetic, but frankly and honestly sensuous. His interest is in his experience of love, and his endeavor is to understand it not to deny or suppress it, and still less to present it untruthfully. The presentation is anything but romantic:
“I song not, Siren-like, to
hi Elegy XI (“The Bracelet”), he deplores the loss of his mistress’s bracelet not because it was the colour of her hair or because of any other romantic reason, but framed because to replace it would cost money. hi a variety of ways his early poems communicated the realism of familiar, conventional, contemporary life. His language is colloquial and many of his love poems, arc simply, talk.
Occasionally, when writing a purely complimentaiy lyric to Mrs. Herbert or Lady Bedford, Donne can adopt the Petrarchan pose. “But the tone and temper, the imagery and rhythm, the texture and colour, of the bulk of his love-songs are altogether different from those of the fashionable love-poetry of the sixteenth century.
It would seem that Donne has given as exhaustive an analysis of the psychology of love as he possibly could. hi his Love Elegies and the “Songs and Sonets”, the individual speaker sometimes loves ‘all women (as in the
Indifferent) and sometimes he curses, or despairs of, all (as in Love’s Alchemy), or announces that he is through with love (The Broken heart). Sometimes he says that he can love any woman so long as she is true, or any woman so long as she is untrue. Sometimes he cares only for the woman’s body and the physical act of love (as in love’s Usury). On at least one occasion he claims to love one woman’s virtuous soul (in The Undertaking). In some of his best poems he insists that love is properly fulfilled only when it embraces both body and soul (as in The Ecstasy, The Blossom, and A Valediction: Of The Book (stanza IV). Two of the poems (Confined Love and Break of Day) arc written in the voice of a woman, one of them arguing wittily for absolute female promiscuity (that is, freedom to love any number of men). In addition to their varied attitudes and speakers, the poems’ explore various forms of address: a lover advises other lovers on how best to begin an affair; he satirizes the foulness of another lover’s mistress; he celebrates a full year of love (The Anniversary); he imagines the future canonization of himself and his mistress as saints of a new religion of love (The Canonization):, he laments the death of his beloved one (A Nocturnal on St, Lucy’s Day)’, he imagines his own burial (The Funeral); he makes his will (The Will).
Donne rebelled not only against the sugared sonnets in which the Petrarchan convention found expression, but against the whole: creed of chivalry and woman worship, For the sugary language, he substituted a more realistic use of words “such as men do use”, and a more dramatic and passionate lyrical verse. As for woman-worship, he looked upon woman as not a goddess but a creature, desirable indeed, enough not adorable. However, no poet has at times used the language of adoration more daringly to express the feeling of the moment (The Sun Rising, A. Valediction; Of Weeping, The Dream, etc.)
There are, indeed, several strands in Donne’s songs and elegies. Some of the love-poems are frankly, even arrogantly, sensual. In others the tears of passion arc touched with shame and scorn. Others again arc directly and splendidly passionate, like the following: “For God’s sake hold your tongue, and let me love” (The canonization); “If yet I have not all thy love” (Love’s Infiniteness)\ “Twice or thrice had I loved thee” (Air and Angels); “All kings and all their favorites” (The Anniversary); “Take heed of loving me” (The Prohibition). But there are still other poems in which Donne rises to a purer conception of love, neither Petrarchan nor Platonic, but something more concrete than either, compounded of passion and tenderness, mutual trust and entire affection. In The Ecstasy, he sings of the interdependence of soul and body; and the Song: Sweetest love I do not go” expresses a simple but deep affection for his wife.
The variety of mood and tone is, indeed, amazing. There is brutal cynicism in Tond woman, which wouldn’t have thy husband die” (Elegy b, There is witty anger in The Apparition. There is sharp and paradoxical wit in “The Pci-fame” (Elegy IV) and the Bracelet” (Elegy XI). There is passionate dignity and strength in “His Picture” (Elegy V). Elegy XIX is frankly sensual. There is passion that rises superior to sensuality and wit, and takes wing into a more spiritual and ideal atmosphere, in “His Parting From Her” (Elegy XII).
In some of his poems Donne mocks at women and ridicules love. This ironical and satirical vein is evident in the Song: ‘Go and catch a falling Star’, Woman’s Constancy, and The Indifferent in all of which he makes fun of women for their fickleness. In Love’s Usuiy he seeks, promiscuity in love; his slogan is “let my body reign (at least in youth). In The Legacy he mocks at his beloved who has given several pieces of her heart to her several lovers. Love’s Alchemy ends with a sharply satirical attack on women:
“Hope not for mined in women; at their best
Sweetness and wit, they are but Mummy, possessed.”
In Love’s Deity he mocks at the god of love for trying to extend his power beyond his jurisdiction.
But neither sensual passion, nor gay und cynical wit, nor soon and anger, is the dominant note in Donne’s love-poetry. The finest note here is the note of joy, the joy of mutual and contented passion. His heart might be subtle to torment itself; but its capacity for joy is even -more obvious. It is only in the songs of Burns that we shall find the sheer joy of loving and being loved finding expression in the same direct and simple language as in some of Donne’s songs, and only in Browning that we shall find same simplicity of feeling combined with a similar swift and subtle dialectic:
“I wonder by my troth what thou and I
Did, till we Loved”. (The Good Morrow)
“For God’s sake hold your tongue, and let me love”.(The Canonization)
“If yet 1 have not all thy love.
Dear, 1 shall never have it all”. (Lovers’Infniteness)
Lines like these have, the same direct passionate quality as Burns’ though it of a more spiritual an intellectual quality in Donne. Nor does Donne fall short of excellence in the note of sorrow and. tenderness in his love-poetry. The Expiration (“So, so break off this last lamenting kiss”) is sorrowful and tender. The beautiful, if not flawless, Elegy XVI, “By our first strange and fatal interview” and the “Valedictions” which he wrote on different occasions of parting from his wife, show a combination of passion, tenderness, and intellectual content, as perfect as anything in Browning:
“0 more than moon Draw not up seas to drown me in thy sphere, Weep me not dead in thine arms, but forbear, To teach the sea, what it may do too soon.” (A Valediction: Of Weeping) “Such wilt be thou to me, who must
Like the other foot obliquely run;
Thy foramens makes my circle just And makes me end where 1 begun. (A Valediction: Forbidding Mourning)
But Donne does not write only love-poems dealing with the heart and the senses. He writes purer poems, in more complex moods. The Prohibition is a metaphysical poem, not only in the sense of being crudity and witty, but in the proper sense of being reflective and philosophical. So is The Ecstasy. A Nocturnal on St. Lucy’s Day is at the opposite pole of Donne’s thought from The Anniversary. The passion in the former poem is felt through the subtle and fantastic web of dialectic; the idea from which the whole springs is the emptiness of life without love. The Ecstasy makes us realize fully what Johnson meant by calling Donne “the ‘first poet in the world for some things”.
As has been medicated, Donne, in certain superficial respects, continues the Petrarchan tradition. Love is still regarded as a god, and lovers the clergy of that god. Oaths may be made in “reverential fear” of that god’s “wrath”; and the man who resists the god of love is a “rebel and atheist”. Donne can even doubt whether those who admit love after a struggle have not lust the god’s grace by their resistance, like (small towns which stand stiff; till the great shot! Enforce them” (Love’s Exchange). Donne can personify the atiributes of his mistress, the “enormous giant”, her Disdain, and the “enchantress Honour” (The Damp), like any Petrarchan poet. But the total effect of Donne’s poetry is quite different from that of Petrarchan love poetry.
One fault-finding critic tells us that the majority of Donne’s love poems deal with variations on five themes, all of them grim the sorrow of parting (including death), the miseries of secrecy, the falseness of the mistress, the fickleness of Donne, and finally a contempt for love itself. According to this critic, most, of Donne’s poems describe the torments of a mind which has been baffled in its relation .to sexual love by certain temporary and highly special conditions. This critic does take note of Donne’s poems of delighted love, such as the Good Morrow and The Anniversary, but is of the opinion that the appeal of Donne’s love-poetry is “limited” and “accidental” and “superficial.” This is, however, a prejudiced view.
The technique of Donne’s love-poetry deserves some notice, too. A great variety of stanza forms, well over forty in number and rarely repeated, is employed. This diversity is closely related to the changing moods and attitudes of the poet toward the theme of love over many years. The ‘argument in a poem its course. Stanza forms vaiy from poem to poem because the writer changes too. Now he is impudent, reckless, irresponsible; now his mind, instead of his emotions, dominates the subject, and in a moment of scintillation he throws out ideas and suggestions which ask to be explored. As a result the poems arc rich in pregnant thought. Valid communication of essential nature of truth. The poems arc natural in being colloquial and argumentative and diverse The same realism is achieved through the innumerable allusions to the familiar, contemporary scene-everyday home life, a window, a dream, maps and voyages, the human body and its health, law, astronomy, war, love death, business. There are, too, allusions which appear recondite to us, but which had a familiar meaning in his day: “What strike us as unaccountable conceits arc simply applications of the current philosophy.”
Donne’s contribution to love-poetry may then be summed up thus. He introduced a new realism in love-poetry, revolting against the Peirarchan tradition. His poems are an attempt to deal Exbaustivdy with the psychology of love. That accounts for the variety of mood and tone in his love-poetry. Some of his love poems are cynical and he mocks, women and at love. Some poems sing of the joy of love and contented mutual passion. He also introduced colloquial language in love poetry.
A brief note on Andrew Marvell
Andrew Marvell was born at Wmestead-m-Holderness, Yorkshire, on March 31, 1621 to the Rev. Andrew Marvel, and his wife Anne. When Marvell was but three years of age, the family moved to Hull. where Rev.
Marvell became lecturer in Holy Trinity Church. He was educated at the Hull Granimar School, and in 1633 he matriculated as a Sizar of Trinity College. Cambridge. Two poems by Marvel!, one in Greek, one in Latin, were printed in the “Musa Cantabngiensis” in 1637. In 1638 Marvel! was admitted a Scholar of Trinity College, and took his B.A. degree in the same year. A few days after receiving his scholarship, Marvell’s mother died. He remained a few more years in residence, leaving Cambridge only after his father’s death, by drowning, in 1640.
It is uncertain what Marvel! did in the years that followed. It is possible that he held a clerkship in his brother-in-law Edmund People’s trading house from 1640-1642. He traveled abroad in France, Holland, Switzerland, Spain, and Italy from 1642-46. In 1650, Marvel! became the tutor of twelve-year-old Mary Fairfax (later Duchess of Buckingham), daughter of Sir Thomas Fairfax. retired Lord General of the parliamentary forces. At the Yorkshire scat of the Fairfax family, Nun Appleton House, Marvel! seems to have written, over a period of about three years, most of his non-satiric English poems. The sojourn provided material for Marvell’s most profound poem, “Upon Appleton House.” a poem crucial to his development both as man and as poet. Here he examines the competing claims of public service and the search for personal insight. To the same period probably belong Marvell’s “To his Coy Mistress” and “The Definition of Love.”
Marvel! had befriended John Milton by 1653, when Milton wrote a glowing recommendation for Marvel! for the post of Assistant Latin Secretary to the Council of State, a post he eventually secured in 1657. Marvell, who had been a supporter of the King, under the Commonwealth, became an adherent of Cromwell. In the summer of 1657, Marvell tutored Cromwell’s nephew and ward, William Dutton, living at Eton.
In September, 1657, Marvell was appointed assistant to John Milton Latin Secretary for the Commonwealth. Marvell was paid a salary of £200, the same as Milton, although his was not a life pension. In his quiet way he seems to have been helpful after the Restoration (1660) in saving Milton from an extended jail term and possible execution. Starting in 1659, Marvell was elected M, P. for his hometown of Hull, and he continued to represent it until his death During his last twenty years of life, Marvel was engaged m political
Activities, taking part in embassies to Holland and Russia and writing political pamphlets and satires. Marvell’s Miscellaneous Poems were printed posthumously in 1681. Marvell died on 16 August, 1678 of tertian ague, and the malpractice of the attending physician. He was buried in the church of St. Giles-in-the-Fields.
MARVELL AS A METAPHYSICAL POET
The name of Andrew Marvel! is remarkable and outstanding as contributor of metaphysical trails and far-fetched imagery. He was a puritan but not fanatic and dogmatic. He was a humanist, a wit and a high minded patriot. His poems have been described as the finest flower of the secular metaphysical verse. His work has metaphysical verse. His work. has the subtlety of wit and passionate arguments. The poetry of Marvel! shows many of the qualities that are associated with metaphysical poetry. In the first place, several of Marvell’s poems have metaphysical Names such as the relation of the human soul to the body, to this world, and to the [world beyond. A number of his poems show that fusion of thought and feeling which is a distinctive mark of metaphysical poetty. Next, there is in abundance of conceits of the metaphysical sort in his poems. Much of the imagery too in his poetry is of the learned kind, and it is characterized also by that vividness and concreteness which are among the marks of metaphysical poetry. Then, some of his poems have abrupt openings and also show a dramatic quality. Finally, Marvell’s poetry is characterized by a terseness of style which is, indeed, a very striking feature of the work of metaphysical poets.
Metaphysical Themes in Marvell’s Poems
A Dialogue Between the Resolved Soul and Created Pleasure, A Dialogue Between the Soul and Body, On A Drop of Dew, and The Coronet are poems with distinctly metaphysical themes. The word “metaphysical” in this context means concerned with the fundamental problems of the nature of the universe and man’s place in this world. In the poems mentioned above, the poet deals with the nature of the human soul and its relation to this world and the world beyond. In the first-named poem, we listen to a debate between a resolute Soul and Pleasure (which represents the temptations of a worldly life). We here witness a combat between the Soul and Pleasure, in which the former comes out with flying colours. The Soul rejects a feast of fruits and (lowers, a luxurious bed, sweet perfumes, the offer of a mirror in which the soul could sec its own reflection, charming notes of music, a woman who (combines in herself all the conceivable beauties, a rich treasure of gold, the power to rule over the world, and knowledge of the nature of this universe and of what is to happen in the future. The Soul insists that its real place is in Heaven. In the debate between the Soul and the Body, the Body certainly succeeds in building up a strong case for itself: but the Soul asserts its superiority and its sublime nature with great self-confidence. In the poem On a Drop of Dew, the sublime nature of the Soul is again established without any doubt. In The Coronet, the poet speaks of the “old serpent” which mars his worship of Christ, and the poet appeals to Christ to crush that serpent even if in the process the poet’s own
Offering of garlands to Christ is crushed. All these poems have a spiritual quality, and they all have a transcendent, metaphysical character.
Two Great Metaphysical Poems of Love
Maivell’s best poems were written apparently in the early 1650’s.Thc Definition of Love and To His Coy Mistress are among the great metaphysical poems of love, but the latter is also in the classical tradition, and both have a spare, cleat symmetry ~—‘d swift, supple sonority that are very different from the normally staccato Donne; they arc not more simple but they arc under perfect control. The essence of both poems is paradox, yet every~ idea and word is an integral part of the pattern. The very title, The Definition of Love, is paradoxical, and the infinity of frustrated love is rendered in terms of the exact sciences of astronomy and geometry. Even the phrase “extended soul” is a philosophical paradox, and the “iron wedges” that follow add a scientific connotation to the Horatian image of fate. A degree of abstract Latinate diction and the rhythm raise the poem from a lyrical to a heroic level. To His Coy Mistress is the period’s finest variation on the theme of carpe diem. A series of witty particular, hyperbolically fancies about unlimited space and time lead to the grim fact of mortality, which is realized in phrases half general and suggestive, half particular and concrete; and the lover resolves the antithesis between love and death with the exhortation to use and conquer lime. The poem has the precise logical sequence of a syllogism, yet it is filled with metaphysical reverberations. And with all the changes in tone and tempo, it has the unity and clarity, the case and grace, of a cavalier lyric.
The Fusion of Thought and Feeling
Metaphysical poetry shows a peculiar blend of passion and thought. Many of the lyrics of Marvell, while expressing a fairly strong emotion, have at the same time an intellectual character. These poems have an argumentative quality, and the argument proceeds in a logical manner. The most outstanding example of this is the poem To His Coy Mistress. Here the poet becomes passionate in his expression of feeling towards the end, but the whole poem is based upon a logically developed line of reasoning. In fact, this poem has a syllogistic structure: “if; “but”; “therefore”. This poem is thus a clear example of what has been described as passionate thinking.
A similar mingling of thought and feeling is to be found in the poem called Young Love where the poet is full of love for a little girl and where he pleads his case by means of convincing arguments in order to induce the girl to love him in return. In the poem The Unfortunate Lover also we have a logical development of the thought, though the poem at the same lime conveys to us the intensity of the lover’s emotion. The “tyrant love” attacks the unfortunate man with all his “winged artillery”, and the victim finds himself between the flames and waves prelude, traces the career of the unfortunate lover from the tune of his birth onwards, and then reaches a conclusion. The conclusion is that unhappy lovers leave behind an undying name. The Fair Singer is another poem in which the poet’s emotion of love is ferry intense but which is characterized by an argumentative quality. The argument here is that, if the beloved had been “singly fair”, the poet, might have been able to [disentangle himself from the trammels’ of her hair, but now all his resistance against her is vain because she has the advantage both of beautiful eyes and a sweet voice. In other poems, too, we have this argumentative quality which shows the poet’s intellect actively at work even though the poems may have been prompted by a strong feeling.
Metaphysical Conceits; Wit
Marvell’s poetry abounds in wit and metaphysical conceits. The word ‘wit’ in this context means the putting together of discordant or heterogeneous ideas. A metaphysical conceit is distinguished by its ingenuity. Such a conceit astonishes us by the unexpectedness of a comparison. Thus in, the poem Eyes and Tears, tears are compared to “watery lines and plummets”; and two eyes swollen with weeping suggest comparisons with (i) ships laden with cargo hurrying lo the native harbor, (ii) a chaste lady’s pregnant womb, and (iii) “Cynthia teeming” (which means the full moon). The eyelids in this poem are described as the “double sluice” of the eyes which, when opened, will let out streams of tears. And there arc a number of other conceits too in this poem in the sense of far-fetched or fantastic notions. In The Nymph Complaining there is a metaphysical conceit in the Nymph’s resolving to put the fawn’s tears in a vial to fill the vial with her own tears, and then to deposit this vial in Diana’s shrine. There is another conceit in the Nymph’s claim that her statue, made of marble thought will be, will always shed actual tears. The notion of a weeping statue is a metaphysical conceit. The Defmition of Love opens with a metaphysical conceit when the poet says that his love was “begotten by Despair upon Impossibility”. There is a conceit in almost every stanza of this poem. The conceit in the two closing stanzas is that the loves of the poet and his beloved am like parallel lines which can never meet, and that this love is the “conjunction of the mind, and opposition of the stars”. One of the most fantastic conceits is to be found in the poem On a Drop of Dew, in the manner in which a dew-drop is described, and especially in the notion that the dewdrop is “like its own tear”, The dew-drop, strange as it may seem, suggests to the poet the human soul which resembles the dew-drop in that both have come into this world from the higher regions in the skies and that both long to go back to their original abode. One of the wittiest conceits is to be found in To His Coy Mistress when the poet employs hyperbole and says that he would spend hundreds and thousands of years in praising the various limbs and organs of his mistress’s body. Indeed, there is no end to the use of metaphysical conceits by Marvel. The poem Upon Appleton House is full of them.
The imagery in the second half of The Definition of Love is of the learned kind. The poet here imagines that he and his beloved have been placed as far apart as the Poles, and goes on to say that, if they arc to be united, the world should all be’ cramped into a plan sphere. Next he gives us a geometrical image, which is then followed by an astronomical one. The Fair Singer concludes with an image of two army generals facing each other, and both desiring the advantage of the wind and the sun. The imagery in On a Drop of Dew is also yew learned, especially when the Soul is being described and when, in the concluding lines, it is compared to Manna, The Coronet contains the image of the “old serpent” twining in its speckled breast and folding itself about the lowers. However, in all these cases the imagery is of a concrete kind, and even abstract notionslike of that the soul arc made of to appear before us to a concrete entities. Such is especially the case in two Dialogues mentioned above.
Abrupt Openings and the Dramatic Quality
The two Dialogues already mentioned above show yet another metaphysical quality. Both these poems open in an abrupt and dramatic manner, without any prelude or introduction. One of these poems begins with a call to the Soul to arm itself and show its fighting power: “Courage my Soul, now learn to wield. The weight of line immortal shield.” The other poem begins with the Soul speaking thus: “0 who shall, from this dungeon, raise/A soul enslaved so many ways.” Both these poems arc dramatic not only in their openings but throughout. There is an clement of suspense, and we eagerly await the next speech from the contestant whose turn it is to speak. The Nymph Complaining also has its dramatic moments, and so have several other poems.
Terseness of style
Marvell’s poetry is remarkable for the terseness of its style. Marvell shows a rare talent for condensation and compression. There is a concentration of meaning in his lines. Perhaps the two most outstanding examples of the concentration of meaning and the condensation of ideas are On a Drop of Dew and The Coroner Here the condensation is so extreme that we have to think very hard in order to understand the full meaning and all the implications of certain lines, A Dialogue between lines which have an epigrainmatic quality. In The Nymph Complaining we have the following two lines with reference to the dead fawn:
“Had it lived long, it would have been Lilies without, roses within.”
In the poem To His Coy Mistress the following two lines have a similar [epigrammatic quality:
“The grave’s a fine and private place,
But none, I think, do there embrace.”
In The Garden, again, we have examples epigrammatic style. For instance;
(I) “Society is all but rude,;
To this delicious solitude”.
(2) “Annihilating all that’s made.
To a green thought in a green shade.”
(3) “Two Paradises ‘there in one
To live in Paradise alone.”
of the highly condensed,
Marvell produced some of the most perfect poems in the language but he is, for all that, somehow, not a major poet. For all the subtlety and accomplishment of his writing, he was essentially one of the last products of the Metaphysical School, but still too much part of it to be quite able to go forward to the kind of portly that followed. He is, in a way. the school of Donne in miniature, working in all the variations of that style. In To If is Coy Mistress., and The Definition of Love he wrote like Donne. In The Coronet and Eyes and Tears, he is largely a follower of Herber
A Discussion George Herbert
George Herbert was born in Montgomery. Wales. on April 3, 1593, the fifth son of Richard and Magdalen Newport Herbert. After his father’s death in 1596, he and his six brothers and three sisters were raised by their mother, patron to John Donne who dedicated his Holy Sonnets to her. Herbert was educated at Westminster School and Trinity College. Cambridge. His first two sonnets, sent to his mother in 1610, maintained that the love of God is a worthier subject for verse than the love of woman. His first verses to be published, in 1612, were two memorial poems in Latin on the death of Prince Henry. the heir apparent.
After taking his degrees with distinction (BA in 1613 and M.A. m 1616), Herbert was elected a major fellow of Trinity, in 1618 he was appointed Reader in Rhetoric at Cambridge, and in 1620 he was elected public orator (to 1628). It was a post carrying dignity and even some authority: its incumbent was called on to express, in the florid Latin of the day, the sentiments of the university on public occasions.’ In 1624 and 1625 Herbert was elected to represent Montgomery in Parliament. In 1626, at the death of Sir Francis Bacon, (who had dedicated his Translation of Certain Psalms to Herbert the year before) he contributed a memorial poem in Latin. Herbert’s mother died in 1627; her funeral sermon was delivered by Donne. In 1629, Herbert married his step-father’s cousin Jane Danvers, while his brother Edward Herbert. the noted philosopher and poet was raised to the peerage as Lord Herbert of Chirbwy
Herbert could have used his post of orator to reach high political office, but instead gave up his secular ambitions. Herbert look holy orders in the Church of England in 1630 and spent the rest of his life as rector in Bemerton near Salisbury. At Bemerton, George Herbert preached and wrote poetry; helped rebuild the church out of his own funds; he cared deeply for his parishioners. He came to be known as “Holy Mr. Herbert” around the countryside in the three years before his death of consumption on March 1, 1633.
A Priest to the Temple (1652), Herbert’s Baconian manual of practical advice to country parsons, bears witness to the intelligent devotion with which he undertook his duties as priest. Herbert had long been in ill health. On his deathbed, he sent the manuscript of The Temple to Nicholas Ferrar. asking him to publish the poems only if he thought they might do good to “any dejected poor soul.”3 It was published in 1633 and met with enormous popular acclaim-it had 13 printings by 1680.
Herbert’s poems arc characterized by a precision of language, a metrical versatility, and an ingenious use of imagery or conceits that was favored by the metaphysical school of poets.3 They include almost every known form of song and poem, but they also reflect Herbert’s concern with speech-conversational, persuasive, proverbial. Carefully arranged in related sequences, the poems explore and celebrate the ways of God’s love as Herbert discovered them within the fluctuations of his own experience.2 Because Herbert is as much an ecclesiastical as a religious poet, one would not expect him to make much appeal to an age as secular as our own; but it has not proved so. All sorts of readers have responded to his quiet intensity; and the opinion has even been voiced that he has, for readers of the late twentieth century, displaced Donne as the supreme Metaphysical poet.’
METAPHYSICAL TRAITS IN HERBERT’S POETRY:
According to Johnson. Herbert belongs to the group of poets who came to be known as the metaphysical poets. John Donne is regarded as the leader of this group. Other principal figures in this group were George Herbert, Thomas Carew, Richard Crashaw, Hemy Vaughan, Andrew Marvell, Abraham Cowicy, John Cleveland, and John Suckling. It was not mainly on account of the content or subject-matter of their poetry that they were called metaphysical poets, but on account of their technique and certain qualities of style. Of course, they can be described as metaphysical also partly on account of the philosophical and reflective nature of many of their poems, but the technical and stylistic aspects are more important in this context. According to Dr. Johnson, the poetry of the metaphysical poets is characterized by a special kind of wit. This wit shows itself in a combination of dissimilar images. According to Johnson, the most heterogeneous ideas arc yoked by violence, together in the poetry of these writers; Nature and art arc ransacked for illustrations, comparisons and allusions; and this poetry is marked by both learning and subtlety.
The Qualities of Metaphysical Poetry, According lo Helen Gardner:
According to Helen Gardner, metaphysical poetly is characterized by concentration, an epigranimatic style or conciseness, and a fondness for conceits which strike us by their ingenuity even when they impress us by their justness. Metaphysical poetry, this critic further tells us, is characterized by intellectual reasoning for which the conceits serve as an instrument. The essence of a. metaphysical poem is a moment of experience or a situation out of which the need lo argue or to persuade arises. A metaphysical poem is also recognized by its abrupt personal opening.
Grierson’s View of Metaphysical poet:
According to II.C. Crierson, metaphysical poetry is fantastic and is distinguished by the more intellectual character of its wit as compared with the conceits of the Elizabethans; the finer psychology of which these conccits are often the expression; its learned imagery; its argumentative quality; and above all its peculiar blend of passion and thought, feeling and ratiocination. Passionate thinking, says Gricrson, is always apt to become metaphysical.
Herbert’s Poetry Metaphysical by Virtue of Its Subject-Matter:
The poetry of Herbert shows quite a number of the qualities which have been described above as metaphysical. In the first place, however, we must recognize the fact that Herbert’s poetry is metaphysical because of its very content or subject-matter. Herbert’s poetry is largely collective and philosophical. The bulk of his poetry deals with Biblical themes and Christian beliefs. The Crucifixion, the Christian idea of redemption, the Resurrection, and the Eucharist figure prominently in Herbert’s poems. In The Agomc for instance, we have a picture of Christ’s suffering on the’ Mount of Olives and also a reference to the Crucifixion. The poem Redemption deals with the Christian belief that Christ died in order to redeem mankind, and we have here a. reference in the closing lines to the Crucifixion. Easter- Wings deals with the Resurrection. In the poem called Dialogue we have a reference to Christ’s renunciation and self-sacrifice. The poem Aaron deals with the holiness of the Biblical Aaron and the poet’s own holiness which he. derives from Christ. The poem Death again deals with Christ!s Crucifixion which has lent a charm and grace to the fact of death and which has made death attractive to human beings. The poem Love depicts God as possessing infinite love for His creatures even when they may be ungrateful to Him. This poem also suggests heavenly as well as Emily Eurcharist. In the poem called The Collar the poet enters into a debate with himself and is able to over come his rebelliousness against God. All these poems arc metaphysical in the sense that their subject-mailer is lo some extent mystical. These poems arc characterized by a spiritual quality. After all, the word “metaphysics” draws our attention lo the existence of the spirit and makes us reflect upon the relationship between the spirit and the senses. Thus Herbert is a metaphysical poet in a literal sense.
Passionate Thinking; Conceits. Colloquial Style; Conciseness:
But Herbert is a metaphysical poet also because of his technique and his style of writing. Me is erudite, witty, and subtle, lie is a writer of poems in which there is deep religious emotion and which at the same time possess an intellectual quality, so that we have in “them that blend of emotion and idea which supplies the key to metaphysical poetry. In many of his poems we have what Grierson calls “passionate thinking”; in them the writer argues a case and does so in a fervid manner. There is, too, an abundance of ingenious conceits in his poems. Then, again, Herbert often adopts the conversational and colloquial style which is a mark of metaphysical poetry and which is the hall-mark of [he poetry of John Donne. Conciseness and concentration too are among the qualities of Herbert’s poetry.
Fusion of Thought and Emotion in “The Collar” and in Other
Some of these qualities may now be illustrated with reference to the individual poems of Herbert, the poem, The Collar, provides an excellent example of a fusion of thought and emotion. Mere we truly have a blend of passion and idea. The poet here feels impatient of the restraints which have been imposed upon his freedom by, his priestly vocation, and he gives expression to his impatience and the feeling of rebelliousness which has arisen in hini against his servitude to the Church and to God. The poem has a dramatic, almost violent, opening in ~the true manner of a metaphysical poem;
“I struck the board, and cried, No more.” Then the poet starts a debate with himself, arguing against his life of servitude and pleading for unlimited freedom. The debate goes on till the poet decides- to break his bonds and liberate himself. But at this stage he hears a gentle rebuke from God, and all his anger subsides and lie immediately becomes humble and submissive towards his Maker. The poem expresses two extremes of feelings: one is intense resentment against the restraints on his freedom, and the other is his religious favor and his deep devotion to God. A similar blend of passion and thought is to be found in the poem 77/6’ Forerunners, the white hairs which have appeared on the poet’s head make him think that his poetic powers will now decline and that he will no longer be able to use “sweet phrases and lovely metaphors” in his poetry which he has always dedicated” to God. Here again he argues his case, pointing out that it was he who had rescued sweet phrases and lovely metaphors from the degrading service which they used to render to obscene and vulgar love poetry, and he asks why .such fine, enchanting language should leave him to go in order to perform certain unworthy functions. At the end, the poet reconciles himself to his fate with the consolation that he can still say: “Thou art still my God”. The emotion which blends with the argument in this poem is that of devotion to God. The first stanza closes with the words: “Thou art still my God”. These words repeated twice subsequently and convey a deep religious feeling which gives life to the poem and makes it an inspiring piece for us. In the poem called Affliction we again have this fusion between thinking and feeling. The poet experiences a conflict between his worldly ambitions and his spiritual aspirations, and he slates the conflict in a manner which shows a capacity for both logical reasoning and a profound religious emotion. This poem, more than any other, shows that passionate thinking lo which Grierson refers.;
Herbert’s poetry abounds in metaphysical conceits, that is, conceits which are used to persuade, to define, or to prove a point, or conceits which m c us concede justness and at the same time fill us with admiration nor their ingenuity. We get from Herbert many conceits which arc far-fetched and fantastic. Perhaps the most conspicuous example of’ the use of ingenious conceits in the work of Herbert is to be found in the sonnet, Prayer. Mere prayer is described in a series of conceits, a regular succession of metaphors. Prayer is “the soul in paraphrase”; “hear in pilgrimage”; “engine against the Almighty”; “sinners’ tower”; “reversed thunder”; and so on. In Mortification, there is a conceit in every stanza because at every stage of man life the poet finds something which symbolizes death. To take only one e ample, the swaddling-clothes of infants arc regarded as symbolic of the winding sheets in which dead bodies are wrapped. In the poem called Varity, we have a truly metaphysical conceit when the poet gives us a picture of the chemist, in his laboratory, discovering the bare principles of things and then dressing them up in order to offer them to the ordinary seekers of knowledge. This picture also .supplies an example of Herbert’s metaphysical wit.
Concentration and Conciseness.
Herbert’s poetry offers numerous examples of epigrammatic statements. Indeed, concentration and conciseness are the striking features of his style. The poem Redemption, consisting of only fourteen lines, is packed with meaning; the account of the tenants search for his landlord leads to a brief but moving picture of Christ among his persecutors. The concluding lines of the poem, The Pearl, gives us, in a concentrated manner, a picture of the poet’s progress through the labyrinths of spiritual perplexity, calling up the whole story of Theseus and Ariadne. The poem Mortification ends in two lines which are pregnant with moral instruction. The poet here appeals to God to “instruct us so to die that all these dying may be lift in death”.
In The Forerunners, we have the famous epigrams: “True beauty dwells on high”, and “Beauty and beauteous words should go together”. In The Collar we have the following lines which, in a few words, convey a lot of meaning:
“lie that forbears
To suit and serve his need, Deserves his load.”
George Herbert is considered as the saint of metaphysical school of poets. Herberts verse nearly all of it devotional in character, is comprised in the Temple (1633). His popular and best poems are The Pilgrimage, The Pulley, The Agony, Redemption, Prayer, The Temper, Vanity The Pearl and The Forerunners. These poems arc full of faith and fervor and subtlety of thoughts and ornaments. No doubt, all the poems of Herbert arc homely, quiet, colloquial and touch with humour. Most of his poems are based on spiritual conflict between the poet and God. Such theme is expressed in his poem The Putty
“When God at first made man,
Having a glass of blessings standing by;
Let us (said he) pour on him all we can;
Let the worlds riches, which dispersed lie,
Contract into a span.”
The Colloquial Nanner; Paradox; Dramatic Quality.
The colloquial or conversational manner of writing is also to be found in many of Herbert’s poems. Many of these poems arc dialogues or colloquies between the poet and his God. In the poem which has the title Dialogue, the poet and God speak in alternate stanzas. The poem Man begins in the following colloquial manner:
The poem called Love is also written in the form of a dialogue between the poet and his God, and has therefore the conversational manner. The poem Death possesses the same quality because here the poet addresses Death personified and speaks to it in conversational tones. The metaphysical love of paradox appears in the line with which the poem Affliction ends: “Let me not love thee, if I love thee not.” The dramatic manner of writing is also veiy marked in Herbert’s poems. The Collar not only has a dramatic opening but is dramatic throughout. Love has several dramatic moments culminating in the last line: “So I did sit and eat.” Affliction has a dramatic quality at several points but it becomes specially dramatic in the final stanza where, after deciding to look for some other master, the poet abruptly experience a change of heart and makes a surrender of himself to God.
Difference Between an Ordinary and a Metaphysical
A conceit means a fanciful idea or notion or comparison. Conceits have been used by almost every poet, and in great abundance by some. A conceit is a poetic ornament or decorative device which at the same time serves to make an idea clearer because of the comparison involved. However, there is a difference between an ordinary conceit and a metaphysical conceit. If~ for instance, one were to say that there are lightning’s in the eyes of one’s beloved or that her dark hair produces an effect of the darkness of night, one would be employing an ordinary conceit which does not surprise anybody. A metaphysical conceit, on the other hand, presents an image or comparison which strikes us by its novelty, which startles us,, and which arouses our wonder at the ingenuity displayed by the speaker or the writer. Thus a poet would be employing a metaphysical conceit if he were to claim that he is already married to his beloved because a fly, after having bitten his beloved’s cheek, has then bitten his cheek and if he were make this claim on the ground that his blood and her blood are now united in the body of the fly which therefore may be regarded as the nuptial bed of the lovers.
Helen Gardner’s View of a Metaphysical Conceit.
As Helen Gardner points out, a metaphysical conceit aims at making us concede justness while admiring ingenuity. In other words, a – ‘ metaphysical conceit certainly establishes a likeness between two objects but at the same time it surprises us by its cleverness or its fantastic quality. And she gives, as an example, Donne’s comparison of the union in absence of two lovers with the relation between the two legs of a compass, and she. especially points out the fact that Donne sustains the comparison throughout the particular poem in which it occurs. Helen Gardner also expresses the view that a metaphysical conceit is not indulged in for its own sake but to persuade, or to define, or to prove a point. Furthermore, says she, a metaphysical conceit is rigorous and concise.
Ordinary Conceits in Herbert’s Poetry
Herbert’s poetry abounds in conceits. Herbert uses both kinds of conceits, the ordinary and the metaphysical. The ordinary conceits are those which, as already pointed out above, merely reinforce the idea or make it more clear, or emphasize it; while the metaphysical conceits arc those which startle us by their ingenuity or their fantastic quality, while at the same lime serving the purpose which an ordinary conceit serves. As Helen Gardner says, a metaphysical conceit is not employed for its own sake: it is generally used to persuade or to define or to prove a point. Let us first take a look at the ordinary conceits in Herbert’s poems so that we can then better appreciate his metaphysical conceits. In the poem, The Agonie, Herbert describes love as a sweet and divine liquor or wine even though his God feels it as blood. Now to call love a sweet and divine liquor or wine or even blood is certainly a conceit, because the comparison involved is unusual. But here we have a conceit which is not very ingenious though it certainly conveys the writer’s appreciation of the feeling of love in human beings and in God. Again, in the poem Easter-Wings the poet wishes to rise upwards like larks, hamioniously, and sing on Easter Sunday of Christ’s victories (over death), and then towards the end he wishes that Christ should engraft new feathers in the poet’s damaged wings so that the poet can fly upwards more speedily and with greater momentum. Both these notions arc conceits. In the first case, the poet compares himself to a lark flying upwards and singing harmoniously, and in the grafting of new feathers in his damaged wing. But both these comparisons, especially the first, would be regarded by us as ordinary even though there is a touch of ingenuity in the second comparison. In the poem, The Temper, the poet compares God’s exercising His discretion in dealing with, the poet to the tuning of the poet’s breast intended to make the music better. This comparison too is a conceit, but of the ordinary variety. In the poem Virtue, the sweet rose is imagined as bidding, with its angry and brave hue, the rash gazer wipe his eye. This comparison too is a conceit but here again the comparison, though it has a pleasing effect, does not astonish us. In the same poem we have another example of the ordinary but even more pleasing conceit when sweet spring is regarded as “a box where sweets compacted lie”. (Here the felicity of the phrase “sweets compacted” is more striking than the comparison itself). In short, there is no dearth in Herbert’s poetry of the kind of conceits which we expect from any poet.
A Metaphysical Conceit in “The Agonie”,
We may now consider those conceits which are metaphysical in character and of which also there is abundance in the poems of Herbert. In The Agonie Herbert describes sin as that “press and vice which forces Pain to hunt his cruel food through every vein”. Now to compare sin to the wine-press or to the vice, both of which represent a tight squeeze or grip, is perhaps not something extraordinary. Sin, by its oppressive influence on human beings, certainly causes that suffocating effect which one might experience if held in’ the tight grip of a wine-press or a vice. But the conceit becomes metaphysical when the poet gives us the image of Pain hunting his cruel food through every vein. Never before reading these lines had we ever thought of pain as a hunter chasing his prey through every vein of the human body. Here the poet gives us evidence of what has been called by Helen Gardner ingenuity in offering a metaphor, metaphor which at the same time is just and convincing.
The poem Redemption has as its basis an elaborate and extended conceit which is certainly ‘metaphysical in its quality. The poet compares himself to a poor tenant of rich landlord, and then sustains the comparison throughout the sonnet. The rich landlord is, of course, Jesus Christ for whom the tenant or the poet searches in heaven and then on earth. Eventually the tenant finds his landlord in the midst of “the noise and mirth of thieves and murderers”; and the landlord, on seeing the tenant, immediately says: “Your suit is granted”, and then dies. Here we have a picture of the Crucifixion, which also implies the redemption of man and of the poet in particular. The whole parable has an ingenious, almost -fantastic, quality. Here Herbert, as elsewhere too, in his poetry, expresses religious ideas and feelings in the language of business and the market place. But though fantastic, the conceit here also make us concede justness.
A Succession of Metaphysical Conceits in “Prayer”.
The sonnet Prayer offers us a whole succession of metaphysical conceits. The character of prayer in this poem is described by Herbert in a series of phrases each of which surprises and startles us by its ingenuity and novelty and which at the same time strikes us by its justness. Herbert begins by describing prayer as “the church’s I banquet”. This conceit may not arouse a feeling of surprise. But when he goes on to ;1 describe prayer as “God’s breath in man returning to his birth”, as “the soul in] paraphrase”, as “heart in pilgrimage” and as “the Christian plummet sounding heaven and earth”, we arc simply amazed by the novelty arid originality of the comparisons. We cannot help admiring, the poet’s ingenuity here. But the poem has only just begun.
Details on Henry Vaughan
Henry Vaughan was born in 1621 to Thomas Vaughan and Denise Morgan in Newton-upon-Usk in Breconshire, Wales. In 1638, it is assumed, he entered Oxford University with his twin brother Thomas who gained fame as a hermetic philosopher and alchemist. In 1640 Vaughan left Oxford to study law in London for two years. His studies were interrupted by the Civil War in which Vaughan briefly took the King’s side. He is thought to have served on the Royalist side in South Wales sometime around 1645. Vaughan returned to Breconshire in 1642 as secretary to Judge Lloyd, and later began to practice medicine. By 1646 he had probably married Catherine Wise with whom he was to have a son and three daughters.
In 1646 Poems with the Tenth Satire. of Juvenal Englished was published. This was followed in 1650 by the first part of Silcx Scintillans, a collection of religious poems. Silcx Scintillans, meaning The Fiery Flint’ or ‘The Flashing Flint’, “refers to the stony hardness of his heart, from which divine steel strikes fire.” The following year, 1651, Olor Iscanus. or The Swan of Usk, a collection of secular poetry with four prose translations, was published. Named for the river Usk which flows near his hometown, Olor Iscanus contains “rhapsodic passages about natural beauty.”2
Silex Scmtillans was reprinted in 1655 with a second, additional part. In its preface Vaughan attributed the transformation to a spiritual awakening brought about by the poems of ‘the blessed man, Mr. George Herbert’. Vaughan’s inspired religious poetry, on which his reputation chiefly rests, is indeed reminiscent of Herbert’s The Temple. He is considered one of the major Metaphysical Poets, whose works ponder one’s personal relationship to God.
After the death of his first wife, Vaughan married her sister Elizabeth possibly hi 1655. Vaughan had another son, and three more daughters by his second wife. Vaughan published a few more works, including Thalia rediviva (1678), none of which equalled the fire of Silex. He died on April 23, 1695, and was buried in Lansantffraed churchyard.
METAPHYSICAL QUALITIES IN VAUGHAN’S
According to Dr. Johnson, the poetry of the metaphysical poets is characterized by a special kind of wit which shows itself in a combination of dissimilar images. The most heterogeneous ideas in this poetry arc yoked together by violence, says Johnson. According to Helen Gardner, metaphysical poetry is characterized by concentration, an epigrainmatic style or conciseness, intellectual reasoning, and a fondness for conceits which strike us by their ingenuity even when they impress us by their justness. According to Gricrson, metaphysical poetry is distinguished by the more intellectual character of its wit as compared with the conceits of the Elizabethans; the fmer psychology of which these conceits arc often the expression; its learned imagery; its argumentative quality; and, above all, its peculiar blend of passion and thought. In addition to all these qualities, a colloquial style is also thought to be one of the ingredients of a metaphysical poem. Very often a metaphysical poem has an abrupt opening and a dramatic quality.
The Metaphysical Subject-Matter of “Regeneration”.
The poetry of Vaughan possesses several of the qualities that have been enumerated above, however, we may first begin with a consideration of the subject-matter of his poetry because this poet like that of Herbert and other poets of this group, is metaphysical by vide of its very themes or their content. Vaughan’s poetry is largely reflective and philosophical. Much of his poetry is inspired by Biblical ideas and concepts. Christian beliefs underlie much of Vaughan’s poetry. The poem called of metaphysical poetry, using the word “metaphysical” in its literal sense of -philosophical, mystical, religious, sacred and reflective. All these poems arc characterized by a spiritual quality. After all the word “metaphysics” draws our .attention to the existence of the spirit and makes us reflect upon the relationship between the spirit and the senses.
The Blend of Emotion and Thought.
But Vaughan is metaphysical also by virtue of his technique and his stylistic qualities. He is, for instance, a writer of poems which possess an intellectual quality but which also express a fervent religious emotion. In other words, in Vaughan’s poems we have that; blend of emotion and thought which is one of the striking characteristics of metaphysical poetry. In many of his poems we have what has been called by a critic “passionate thinking”. The poem Regeneration undoubtedly expresses the religious feelings of Vaughan; but it is also characterized by an orderly and logical development of the thought which gives to the poem an intellectual character. The conclusion of the poem is reached through well-defined stages in the regeneration of the poet.
Even though Vaughan has often been accused of a want of constructive skill,
this particular poem is definitely well-constructed. The Retreat shows a similar logical development of thought while expressing a deep religious emotion. The religious emotion lies in the poet’s description of his closeness to heaven during his lime of “angel-infancy” and in his desire to go back to that time. This desire for backward motion corns at the end of the poem after Vaughan has given us a coherent and logical account of his childhood days, and the contrast of those days with the sinful days of maturity. The World is yet another poem in which a deep religious emotion is fused with the logical development of the theme. After giving us a splendid picture of eternity, the poet depicts, one after the other, the various lusts of this world the lust of sexual love, the lust of the statesman for power and money, the lust of the miser for gold the lust of epicure for sumptuous food and so on.
Regeneration for instance, is based on a passage in The Song of Solomon in which the North-wind, the South-wind, and a garden and its spices arc mentioned. The Nature imageiy of the poem is derived from this Biblical passage, especially the imagery of the wind and the garden. This poem suggests also another Biblical passage in which Jesus Christ says that the wind blows where it pleases and that a man cannot enter the kingdom of God unless he is born of water and of the Spirit. The word “regeneration” in this poem implies the progress of a pilgrim from a state of sinfulness to a realization of the presence of God. The whole poem is a kind of religious meditation, employing plenty of symbolism such as the two kinds of stones, the grove with its beautiful spring, and the two groups of people, some fast asleep and others broad-eyed.
The Metaphysical Subject-matter of Some Other Poems by Vaughan Certain other poems may also be mentioned in this connection. The Shower is another reflective and philosophical poem in which the writer points out the Christian belief that only love can “unlock the way” to heaven and in which the poet realizes that shedding tears of repentance over his sins is the only means to spiritual relief. The Retreat is a mystical poem in which the poet glorifies childhood, expressing, the view that the child comes into this world from heaven and therefore still has vivid memories of his heavenly existence before birth. The poem called Peace takes us into “a country tar beyond the stars” where the ranks of the soldiers of peace arc commanded by Jesus Christ who “did in pure love descend to die -for thy sake” Peace concludes with a reference to God who never changes and who only can sustain the life of man and cure his sicknesses. The World is another highly meditative and philosophical poem in which the image of eternity is presented in some striking lines and in which eternity is contrasted with this temporal world. This poem too has a religious and mystical conclusion: “This Ring the Bridegroom did for none private. Brit for his bride.” Thus the subject-matter in these poems lends to them the character miser for gold the lust of the epicure for sumptuous foods and so on. In the final stanza, the poet preaches the moral that man should tread the path which leads to God instead of dwelling in the darkness of this world.
Ingenious and Far-Fetched Conceits,
The poetry of Vaughan abounds in metaphysical conceits, namely conceits which strike us both by their ingenuity and by their justness. Some of these conceits are quite fantastic and a few could even be described as preposterous. Must of them arc, however, quite pleasing, in spite of their being far-fetched. In Regeneration, we have a conceit (in the very opening stanza) which is both ingenious and apt. The poet here tells us that within him was the frost of winter, and that surely winds blasted his infant buds and sin, like clouds, eclipsed his mind. Then follows another conceit when the poet compares himself to a pilgrim whose eye “measures the melancholy sky”, then drops, and sheds profuse tears of grief. The next conceit is somewhat unconvincing. The poet finds a pair of scales in which he weighs his recent misfortunes against his worldly pleasures, finding the former to be heavier.
The conceit in the picture of two kinds of stones in the fountain is also not a very happy one. Regeneration is a poem in which almost every stanza contains a metaphysical conceit. The Shower too contains a number of conceits, In the opening stanza we have a picture of the drowsy Lake that “from her faint bosom” breathed the vapors which took the shape of a cloud from where the shower of rain fell. In this case the conceit becomes absurd when we read about the disease of the Lake’s “sick waters and infectious ease”. However, there is nothing preposterous about the next conceit which tells that love only can “with quick access” unlock the way to heaven. Nor is there anything absurd about the conceit in the final stanza where the poet hopes that his tears of repentance over his sins would soften his hard heart and would, through God’s grace, give him sun shine after rain. Both these conceits arc ingenious as well as convincing or just. The poem called Peace offers us a conceit in the picture of Christ commanding the ranks of the soldiers of peace, and peace sitting crowned with smiles, in that far country. This is a metaphysical Conceit of the better variety with nothing absurd about it. The World offers a number of metaphysical conceits of which ~e one in the opening lines has been praised by almost every critic. Here Eternity is pictured as a great ring of pure and endless light, all calm, as it was bright, while Time is pictured as moving like a vast shadow. The conceits that follow serve to give a concrete form to some of the abstract ideas, and arc both just and ingenious. For instance, the dear treasure of the doting lover lies scattered around, him; the darksome statesman, like a thick midnight-fog, moved “so slow he did not stay, nor go”.
Concentration and Conciseness.
Vaughan’s style is certainly characterized by Inequalities of conciseness. The most striking example of these two qualities is the poem called The Shower which in only three Stan as expresses two very weighty religious ideas namely the power of sacred love, and the need of repentance. This poem is truly packed with, meaning. The concluding lines of this poem fully illustrate the conciseness of Vaughan’s style:
“Perhaps at last
Some such showers past, My God would give a sunshine after rain.”
The Retreat is another poem which is packed with meaning. In about thirty lines a profound philosophy of childhood has been stated. Here every nfl is loaded with ore. I low much is conveyed through Hie following lines “Before I taught my tongue to wound My conscience with a sinful sound, Or had the black art to dispense A several sin to every sense.”
The World is characterized by a similar concentration and conciseness. Here the various lusts of this world arc depicted in a very terse style. Indeed, we really marvel at the wealth and variety of meaning that has been packed into the stanzas of this poem.
The Abrupt Openings; the Colloquial Manner; and the Dramatic Quality.
As in the case of many poems by the other metaphysical poets, several poems by Vaughan have abrupt and personal openings, a colloquial manner, and a dramatic quality. One example of the abrupt and personal opening is to be found in The Shower: “T was so, I saw thy birth.” The Retreat has a similar abrupt and personal opening:
“Happy those early day
When I. Shined in my angel-infancy.”
The colloquial manner is also apparent in both the above openings. The colloquial manner is also to be found in the poem Peace where the poet is addressing his Soul. This poem is, indeed, colloquy between the poet and his Soul The colloquial manner is apparent even in the poem Regeneration:
“Lord, then said 1, On me one breath,
And let me die before my death!”
Peace is another religious and sacred poem of Vaughn. The -message of the poem is that one can find peace only by renewing the interests of this material world and turning one’s thought to God and heaven. Peace dwells not in this earthly world but in the heavenly word. This theme is expressed is the dramatic opening of the poem:
“My soul, there is a country Far beyond the stars, Where stands a winged sentry Mi skilful in the wars.”
The dramatic element is to be found to a marked extent throughout the poem The World. Here the very opening is both colloquial and dramatic:
“I saw eternity the other night Like a great Ring of pure and endless light, All calm, as it was bright.”:
After that, the pictures of the various lusts, which follow, arc all highly dramatic. To take only few examples, we have the picture of the state man drinking the blood and tears which rained about him; and there is the picture of the fearful miser who sat pining all his life there, not trusting “his own hands with the dust”.
Conclusion and Findings
As details above, it is worth pointing out that when the Elizabethan poetry was almost turning vague and dull, there needed an alternative sensibility in literature. Broadly speaking the Metaphysical Poetry was a revolt against the romantic conventionalism of Elizabethan love poetry. The tendency of Donne, Cowley, Andrew, Marvel!, Hebert, Vaughan and others towards psychological analysis of the emotion of love and religion, their fondness for the novel and the shocking, their use of “conceits” and the extremes to which they sometimes carried their technique resulted frequently in obscurity, rough verse, strained imagery, repulsive realism and violation of good taste. Form the real point of views Metaphysical poetry has undoubtedly driven the wheel of newness with its mesmerizing traits.
Donne is the classic representative of metaphysical poetry. He was a man whose instinct compelled him to bring the whole of experience into his verse and choose the most direct and what, for his learned and fantastic mind, was the most natural form of expression. He is colloquial, elevated, slangy, rhetorical, erudite, familiar all in the same brief poem. This curious combination of qualities, it is interesting to note can be found alike, in his youthful love poems and in the passionate religious poems of his later life. When we speak of Donne as a metaphysical poet, we generally have in mind the combination of passion and thought which characterizes his work. His use of conceits are often witty and sometimes fantastic. His hyperboles are outrageous and his paradoxes astonishing. He mixes fact and fancy in a manner which astounds us. He fills his poem with learned and often obscure allusions. Besides, some of his poems are metaphysical in philosophical and reflective sense, and they deal with concerns of the spirit or soul.
Actually the tem ‘Metaphysical’ is a new approach in the history of English poetry. Donne is considered as the father of metaphysical poetry because of handling the application of far-fetched conceits, colorful imagination, amorous love, hyperbolic thought and philosophical ideas. Donne as the innovator of Metaphysical poetry does not follow the conventional system of writing poetry. He appears on the literary stage as rebel and reformer. In his poetry, we find the depth of philosophy, subtlety of reasoning, a blend of emotion a and thought, light and seriousness, passion and intellect, imagination and realism which, of Course, bring variety, newness and richness.
The name of Andrew Marvel! is remarkable and outstanding as contributor of metaphysical traits and far-fetched imagery. He was a puritan but not fanatic and dogmatic. He was a humanist, a wit and a high minded patriot. His poems have been described as the finest flower of the secular metaphysical verse. His work has metaphysical verse. Ills work has the subtlety of wit and passionate arguments. The poetry of Marvell shows many of the qualities that are associated with metaphysical poetry. In the first place, several of Marvell’s poems have metaphysical Names such as the relation of the human soul to the body, to this world, and to the world beyond. A number of his poems show that fusion of thought and feeling which is a distinctive mark of metaphysical poetry. Next, there is in abundance of conceits of the metaphysical sort in his poems. Much of the imagery too in his poetry is of the learned kind, and it is characterized also by that vividness arid concreteness which are among the marks of metaphysical poetry. Then, some of his poems have abrupt openings and also show a dramatic quality. Finally, Marvell’s poetry is characterized by a terseness of style which is, indeed, a very striking feature of the work of metaphysical poets.
Herbert’s poetry is largely reflective and philosophical. The bulk of his poetry deals with Biblical themes and Christian beliefs. All his poems are metaphysical in the sense that their subject matter is to some extent mystical. His poems are characterized by-spiritual quality and these; make us reflect upon the relation-ship between the spirit and the senses. He also contributed passionate thinking, conceits, colloquial style, conciseness, fusion of thought and emotion, colloquial Manner, paradox, dramatic quality in his several poems. Thus Herbert as a metaphysical poet contributed much in his poetry.
Vaughan derived most of the superficial characteristics from Herbert. But he is perfectly original and offers something very different from Herbert. It is part of Vaughan’s originality that he felt the poetry of childhood. The real contributions of Baughman to literature are these poems where he is most himself and calls no man master. He also contributed a blend of thought and emotion, concrete imagery, colloquial manner, use of conceits, love of nature, simplicity of thought and expression, lightness and ease and mysticism etc in his poetry.
In brief the contribution of the metaphysical poets are intellectual tone, abundance of subtle tone, conceits (which are always witty and sometimes fantastic), scholarly allusions, dramatic tone and philosophic or reflective element.
At last we find something from the discussion of an elaboration of thought on the contribution of metaphysical poets that they are more matured than later poets and they have much contributed in the history of English poetry. Even though they have much faults, no doubt still then they have much virtues. Their attempts were always analytic; they broke every image into fragments; and could no more represent by their slender conceits and laboured particularities. They supply hyperbole in their writing. Their religious meditations are expressed the poetical meditations in their poetry. They displayed an abundance of wit and their subtlety was surprising. Emotional intellectuality is a leading quality of Metaphysical poets. All of them are contributed the same quality of the emotion of love and religion, use of conceits, concrete imagery, colloquial manner, dramatic quality etc in their works.