Metaphysical Poetry(Part 1)

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Metaphysical Poetry

The term ‘metaphysical poets’ came into being long after the the poets, to whom it is applied, were dead. What later came to be known as ‘metaphysical poetry’ was referred to, by contemporaries, as ‘strong lived’- a term which meant something more than the poet’s fondness for indulging in nice speculations of philosophy. A metaphysical poem tends to be brief, and is always closely woven. Marvell, under the metaphor of a Coronet characterizes his own art precisely in The Coronet, when he speaks of a ‘curious fume’ in which the flowers are set with skills and chosen out with care .Concentration and a sinewy strength of style are distinctive marks of Donne’s poetry. A stanza from Donne or Herbert is like a limiting frame in which words and thoughts are compressed, ‘a box where sweets compacted lie’ . The other characteristic of metaphysical poetry, its most immediately striking feature is its fondness for conceits. A conceit is a comparison whose ingenuity is more striking. All comparisons discover likeness in things unlike a comparison because a conceit when we are made to concede likeness while being strongly conscious of unlikeness. In a metaphysical poem, conceits are instruments of definition. In an argument or instruments to persuade. The poem has something to say which the conceit helps to forward. The metaphysical conceit aims at making us concede aptness while admiring ingenuity. Thus in one of the most famous of all metaphysical conceits, the comparison of the union is absence of two lovers with the relation between the two legs of compass, Donne sustains the comparison through the whole process of drawing a circle. Donne, in fact tries to give a proof by analogy of their union and thereby finally persuade his mistress not to mourn. ‘The whole frame of the poem’, Donne believes, ‘is a beating out of a piece of gold’. Arguments and persuasions and the use of conceit as their instrument, are the elements or body of a metaphysical poem....
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