metaphysical poets

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metaphysical poets,

name given to a group of English lyric poets of the 17th cent. The term was first used by Samuel Johnson (1744). The hallmark of their poetry is the metaphysical conceit (a figure of speech that employs unusual and paradoxical images), a reliance on intellectual wit, learned imagery, and subtle argument. Although this method was by no means new, these men infused new life into English poetry by the freshness and originality of their approach. The most important metaphysical poets are John Donne, George Herbert, Henry Vaughan, Thomas Traherne, Abraham Cowley, Richard Crashaw, and Andrew Marvell. Their work has considerably influenced the poetry of the 20th cent.


See studies by H. C. White (1936, repr. 1962), J. F. Bennett (3d ed. 1964), H. Gardner, ed. (1967), G. Williamson (1967), P. Beer (1972), P. Grant (1974), and M. DiCesare, ed. (1988).

References in periodicals archive ?
Which great English Metaphysical poet was appointed Dean of St Paul's in 1621?
The great metaphysical poet John Donne once wrote, "No man is an island, entire of itself; ..." What he meant is that no one can exist entirely alone and without being part of something greater.
He has set to music the great Metaphysical poet's Hear, O Hear Us, At the Round Earth's Imagined Corners, and Ascension.
Metaphysical poet John Donne saw his wife's doppelnger in 1612 in Paris, on the same night as their daughter was born dead.
THE so-called metaphysical poet John Donne famously wrote that "No man is an island" way back in 1624 but the idea of cutting oneself off from civilisation and starting again is not a new one.
Curiously, the basically elegiac mood is sustained musically even for the much harsher text of 'Parachute." The cycle ends cleverly with a final movement setting Metaphysical poet George Herbert's "Heaven." In this, the chorus sings a series of questions about eternity that elicit single word responses from the tenor that answer the questions in a deep but indirect way.
After mentioning Richard Crashaw, the seventeenth-century metaphysical poet whose work is also influenced by Spanish mysticism, Menes asks, "Isn't irreverence a sign of holiness?" Then, as if suggesting religion could be more engaging, Menes states, "If I had my own creed, the Mass / would be a spectacle of gaffes, riddles, puns, tricks, tongue twisters, even slapstick, the Three Stooges my Trinity." He claims, "their liturgy / of jokes the surest path to grace in a fallen world."
While there has been much critical work done on Stevens over the years, there has not been a lot of biographical inquiry, perhaps because, as the Academy of American Poets website puts it, "Composing poems on his way to and from the office and in the evenings, Stevens continued to spend his days behind a desk at the office, and led a quiet, uneventful life." Though it is hard to convey a life of the mind, Mariani's biography does justice to this cerebral, metaphysical poet and his enduring body of work.
"I was a few hundred years too late to become a metaphysical poet." he recalled on his website.
Australian writer Peter Porter described Hull as "the most poetic city in England" because as well as Larkin, its literary heritage also includes the 17th century metaphysical poet Andrew Marvell, who grew up and was educated there, Stevie Smith, who was born in Hull, and former Poet Laureate Andrew Motion, whose first volume of poetry was published while he taught English at the university.
On that day - it was Good Friday 1613 - the metaphysical poet John Donne was riding westwards.