Discuss the use of imagery in the three metaphysical poems we have

Discuss the use of imagery in the three metaphysical poems we have

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Discuss the use of imagery in the three metaphysical poems we have
studied as a class.

In the three metaphysical poems The Flea, To His Coy Mistress and A
Valediction Forbidding Mourning; all have used unusual objects in
their imagery, these objects are not usually associated with the
subject matter so they get the poets point across in a bizarre style.
All of the poems have similar themes and are all trying to persuade
the women in them to co-operate with their needs in one way or
another. All the poems deal with love, which is where the metaphysical
aspect of the poem is portrayed.

Metaphysics is a branch of philosophy that deals with the first
principles, in particular Ontology ('being') and Epistemology
('knowing'), and that is concerned with the ultimate nature of
reality. Metaphysical poets were a group of early 17th Century English
Poets whose wok is characterised by ingenious, highly intricate
wordplay and unlikely or paradoxical imagery. They use rhetorical and
literary devices, such as paradox, hyperbole and elaborately developed
conceits, in such a way as to engage the reader by their sheer

In A Valediction Forbidding Mourning, a compass is used as the
imagery. The poet is saying that he is at one point of the compass and
she, his lover, is at the other and no matter how far he moves away
they are still joined together. But when the lovers are together the
points of the compass come together and the compass grows erect, this
closed compass is an image of his erect penis. This image that the
poet uses is to say to her that she need not worry because she is the
only woman for him.

At the top point of the image of the compass joining the man and woman
together there is also a hidden picture of an eagle, "Like gold to
ayery thinnesse beate." The 'ayery' in the quote is shaped to be seen
as the word aviary which gives the idea of birds. When the
illustration of 'gold' is mentioned before this, the two visual
representations are combined to create an image of a golden eagle. The
golden eagle is seen as a symbolic figure of strength and importance
and within this text the poet is saying that the eagle is watching
over them and protecting their love.

The poem also brings up the subject of "Moving of th'earth brings
harmes and feares," this is when the world was debating as to whether
the earth was the centre of the universe. This caused a huge uproar in
society because it shook peoples' beliefs. It is a sexual image and

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the fact that it is innocent, "Though greater farre, is innocent." It
is trying to say that the act of sexual intercourse is also innocent;
he is using it as a form of persuasion. The poet is saying that even
thought the planets do move they will always return, just like they
will, himself and his mistress.

However, A Valediction Forbidding Mourning is the only of the three
poems which does not have an argument as the basis. In the other two
poems, The Flea and To His Coy Mistress the poet is arguing and trying
to persuade the women to have sex with them but in A Valediction
Forbidding Mourning the poet has already had sex with his mistress and
is declaring his love for her and reassuring her that however far away
he is he still loves her and always will.

In The Flea the foundation of the poem is an argument between the poet
and his mistress. He begins by playfully commenting about how they
have not yet had sex, "And this, alas, is more than we would do." But
near the end of the poem he has changed from being witty to being full
of anger because she refuses to abide with his wishes "Cruel and
sudden hast thou since / Purpled thy nail in blood of innocence?" She
refuses to have sex with him because it is against her religious
beliefs. The poet uses her religious values to counter-argue her
principle of not having sex before marriage, "Let not to this
self-murder added be, / And sacrilege: Three sins in killing three."
He is disagreeing that she would also be going against her religious
beliefs if she kills the flea because it is murder. In both The Flea
and A Valediction Forbidding Mourning religion is used to persuade the
women to have sex because the women care so much about religion and
religion is against it so the poets have to persuade with them
religion because they

The unusual imagery of a flea is used to represent the lovers. The
poet comments on how when the flea has sucked each of them in turn and
their blood has mingled inside the flea it is as if they have already
had sex. This is because he has a very light-hearted opinion of the
act of sexual intercourse and sees it just as an exchanging of bodily
fluids and nothing that should be kept sacred. He sees the flea as a
bond of their love and if she moves and kills the flea she will kill
their love as well.

In The Flea, with its unusual use of imagery in a flea the next poem
uses another creature as its imagery, worms. To His Coy Mistress is
another argument about having sex, like in The Flea the poet is trying
to persuade his mistress to have sex with him but for a different
reason then in The Flea, he uses the argument that time is running out
they will never be able to express their love. The worms are used when
he says, "…then worms shall try/That long preserved virginity:/And
your quaint honour turned to dust;" The poet is saying that if she
waits to lose her virginity it may be too long and she will die and
then the worms will take her virginity and her honour will be gone. In
this rather graphic image the poet is undermining her honour and
trying to make her think twice, but, as in The Flea she is arguing
that it is against her religious beliefs to have sex before marriage.

In To His Coy Mistress time plays a large factor as to why he wants
her to have sex with him. He says that time is running out for the
both of them, "But at my back I always hear/Time's winged Chariot
hurrying near:" The poet is saying that he can fell time closing in on
them and they will soon be caught by time. He is saying that her
shyness would not be a problem if they had all the time in the world,
"Had we but world enough, and time, /This coyness, lady, were no crime."
But, they do not have sufficient time so they cannot wait because they
may never have the chance again. Even though he knows that time is
running out he still challenges it, "Thus, though we cannot make our
sun/Stand still, yet we can still him run" By saying this the poet is
telling his mistress that even though they cannot stop time they can
challenge it and make it last for as long as possible.

His mistress is uncertain of his love and whether he loves her of just
wants her for sex. In the line, "My vegetable love should grow" he is
describing his love for her but it can be interpreted in two ways, the
first that his love is like a vegetable as it grows more and more each
day and that when a vegetable is growing there is more underneath the
soil than above so there is more to his love than there seems. Another
way in which it can be interpreted is that he is referring to his
penis 'growing' erect.
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