Blida Department of English: Free Stand to Stand Free
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Metaphysical poetry.

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Metaphysical poetry.

Post by sabine on Wed Mar 09, 2011 5:19 pm

Hi mates! today I want to provide you with some information about "metaphysical poetry".

What is a metaphysical poem?
The term "metaphysical" when applied to poetry has a long and interesting history. You should know this, but the information in Helen Gardner's Introduction to The Metaphysical Poets (Penguin)is more than adequate. Luckily, you have no time in an exam for a lengthy discussion. The examiner wants to see you discuss the text.
Metaphysical poetry is concerned with the whole experience of man, but the intelligence, learning and seriousness of the poets means that the poetry is about the profound areas of experience especially - about love, romantic and sensual; about man's relationship with God - the eternal perspective, and, to a less extent, about pleasure, learning and art.
Metaphysical poems are lyric poems. They are brief but intense meditations, characterized by striking use of wit, irony and wordplay. Beneath the formal structure (of rhyme, metre and stanza) is the underlying (and often hardly less formal) structure of the poem's argument. Note that there may be two (or more) kinds of argument in a poem. In To His Coy Mistress the explicit argument (Marvell's request that the coy lady yield to his passion) is a stalking horse for the more serious argument about the transitoriness of pleasure. The outward levity conceals (barely) a deep seriousness of intent. You would be able to show how this theme of carpe diem (“seize the day”) is made clear in the third section of the poem.
Reflections on love or God should not be too hard for you. Writing about a poet's technique is more challenging but will please any examiner. Giving some time to each (where the task invites this), while ending on technique would be ideal.
Here are some suggestions as to how to look at the detail of individual poems under a very broad heading.
Love in the poems
In Marvell we find the pretence of passion (in To His Coy Mistress) used as a peg on which to hang serious reflections on the brevity of happiness. The Definition of Love is an ironic game - more a love of definition let loose; the poem is cool, lucid and dispassionate, if gently self-mocking. So you can move on to Donne, in whom passionate sexual love is examined with vigour and intensity. There are far too many suitable poems to consider all in detail, but The Good-Morrow, The Sunne Rising and The Anniversarie belong together, while A Nocturnall, upon S. Lucie's Day gives the other side of the coin. There is positive celebration of life in The Good Morrow and the others, while in the Nocturnall we have the examination of complex negativity.
In A Valediction, Forbidding Mourning the argument is not logically persuasive, but the cleverness and subtlety of Donne's method are diverting - an intelligent woman might be comforted. She cannot change the fact of the lover's going, but the poem is evidence of the integrity of the love he has professed hitherto.
Both Herbert and Vaughan address man's love of God, while Herbert, and Marvell (Bermudas), consider God's love of man. Herbert considers man's duty to God in The Collar and The Pearl as does Marvell in The Coronet.
Eternity and man's life in the context of this, is the explicit subject of all of Vaughan's poems in the selection, but is considered by Herbert in The Flower and, in a wholly secular manner, by Marvell in To His Coy Mistress.
In terms of the whole poetry of these four, this small selection accurately reflects the arguably narrow preoccupation of Herbert and Vaughan with religious questions, and the great variety of Marvell.
The selection only of love poems is partly misleading in Donne's case. He wrote a great deal of devotional verse, much of it very good, but his most striking achievements are in the Songs and Sonets. Herbert, of course, is not narrow - he is concerned with man's whole life in relation to God. Vaughan is more problematic - his preoccupation with his own salvation and his conviction that most of mankind is damned are less attractive qualities. He is fanatical where Herbert is tolerant.

I hope that this will help you friends. Good luck.
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sabine

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Registration date : 2011-02-23

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