Essay on The Bold Metaphysical Poetry of John Donne

Essay on The Bold Metaphysical Poetry of John Donne

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The Bold Metaphysical Poetry of John Donne


In the seventeenth century, John Donne's writing was considered extreme. His style became known as metaphysical, a name given to such poets by critics. The term metaphysical is a word used to define something that is based on human reasoning. The Metaphysicals combined mind and intellect with emotion and nature, and they were accused of writing revolutionary poems just to display their learning. Poets who came before the metaphysical writers based their poetry on sweet, smooth musical verse. However, metaphysical poetry wanted no part of the old ways of writing. Thus, metaphysical poetry can be described as bold and daring. It can also be described as sharp and unique. Although this new poetry was criticized greatly, it has become well known in literature.

John Donne is probably the most famous metaphysical poet. One of his most famous poems is "A Valediction: Forbidding Mourning." In this poem, he combines metaphors, imagery, and emotion to convey the intensity of the poem's meaning. Figurative language is used in the poem to illustrate to his addressee (his wife) preceding an impending lengthy separation that although their separation will be difficult, their sacred love will remain strong. The poem has been suggested to have been written with the intent to explain to his addressee why their separation was not a cause for great sorrow. The poet was probably leaving for France in 1611 on a European tour with his friend Sir Robert Drury. Ann was sick and pregnant and protested being left behind (Cavanaugh).

Donne uses two metaphors to explain just how he and his wife remain united when they are apart. In lines 13-16, Donne describes "dull sublunary lover's love." The poet say...


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...A Valediction Forbidding Mourning." The Bedford Introduction to
Literature: Reading, Thinking, Writing. 5th ed. Ed. Michael Myer. Boston: Bedford/St. Martin's, 1999. 790.

Grierson, Herbert. "Donne's Love Poetry." John Donne. Ed. Helen Gardner.
Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall, 1962. 23-35.

Louthan, Doniphan. The Poetry of John Donne: A Study in Explication. Westport, CT:
Greenwood, 1951.

Unger, Leonard. Donne's Poetry and Modern Criticism. New York: Russell and Russell,
1962.

Warnke, Frank. "John Donne." Twayne's English Authors Series Online. New York: G. K.
Hall, 1999. <http://galenet.gale.com>.

Willy, Margret. "John Donne: Overview." Reference Guide to English Literature. 2nd ed.
Ed. D. L. Kirkpatrick. N.p.: St. James P, 1991.

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