Metaphysical Poets

Read this article to know about the in-depth analysis of Metaphysical Poets of the Jacobean Era.


  • As opposed to theatre, the poetry of this era was personal and private.
  • John Donne and George Herbert were the most significant of all the metaphysical poets.
  • The term ‘Metaphysical’ was termed by 18th-century critic Samuel Johnson.
  • Metaphysical poets were highly regarded in 20th-century British poetry and criticism after three centuries of neglect and disdain.
  • Their conceits, metaphors and images, paradoxes and intellectual complexity make the poem a constant challenge to read.
  • There lies a conflict between sensuality and pleasure and the presence of profoundly religious concerns and experiences in their works.
  • T. S. Eliot recovered most of the works of Donne and Herbert.

Metaphysical Poets

  •  John Donne and George Herbert

    • They were experimenters both in poetic form and subject matter they used.
    • They were innovators in the linguistic directness of expression.
    • They reflect the desire to expand the human horizons in their poetry.
    • To challenge his position in relation to the society, to his self-perceptions and to love and religion is the feature of Donne’s poetry.
    • On the other hand, Herbert’s works are filled with doubt or praise towards God.
  • Henry Vaughan 

    • He considered himself as a covert to Herbert.
    • His works present a world of innocence bordering on the mystical that resembles the themes of Romantics.
    • There exist a taste of the countryside in his works.
    • He wrote love poems, secular poems as well as devotional poems.
    • Silex Scintillans (1650) is the first major volume of his poems.
  • Thomas Carew

    • He wrote lyrics and songs with a cynical tone.
    • He is first noted for an elegy to John Donne.
    • His best-known masque (1630) is Coelum Britannicum.
    • His poems written in his last years are erotic, satirical and express passion vividly.
    • e.g. Mediocrity a Love Rejected.
  •  Thomas Treherne 

    • He wrote most joyful poetry in the 17th century.
    • He is often compared to Walt Whitman for his unconventional and exuberant verse forms.
    • His work Roman Forgeries documented the falsification of Church documents by the Roman Church during the 9th century.
    • He gave an original depiction of childhood experiences and a desire to return to the young age.
    • He explores the infinite possibilities of the human mind and spirit and finds God in human; ‘ life: life is all’.
  •  Richard Crashaw 

    • After converting to Catholicism, he fled from his country.
    • He wrote religious poetry.
    • His main themes are- ecstasy martyrdom.
    • His secular poems hold the themes of love and quest for “that not impossible she.”
    • His most important works are Steps to the Temple and Carmen Deo Nostro
  • Andrew Marwell

    • His poems range from political to passionate.
    • He is accused of being time-server.
    • His poem To His Coy Mistress brings together Renaissance themes of love and transience and images of time passing.

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