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Introduction

  • 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

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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