Characteristics of Metaphysical Poetry

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What is a metaphysical poem?

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.

Characteristics of Metaphysical Poetry
Startling comparisons or contrasts of a metaphysical (spiritual, transcendant, abstract) quality to a concrete (physical, tangible, sensible) object. In "A Valediction: Forbidding Mourning," Donne compares the love he shares with his wife to a compass. Mockery of sentimental romantic poetry

Gross exaggeration (hyperbole)
Presentation of a logical argument. Donne argues that he and his wife will remain together spiritually even though they are apart physically.

Metaphysical Poetry - The Flea + Sune Rising
Metaphysical poets use startling juxtapositions in their poetry to create a greater significance in their arguments and intended meanings throughout the poem. John Donne is said to be the unsurpassed metaphysical poet, metaphysical poetry being poetry relating to a group of 17-century English poets whose verse is...
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