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).

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References in periodicals archive ?
The exhibition is redolent of the language and imagery of the metaphysical poets. In the entrance hallway, a large blue glass bell hangs on a rope supported by a step-ladder, positioned beside a window overlooking the garden.
Eliot, the twentieth century took a broader, more charitable view of earlier metaphysical poetry, arguing that the great seventeenth century metaphysical poets managed to weave the emotional and intellectual into one unified work.
The unique metaphors around which Sinead Morrissey constructs many of her poems also contain a classic character that remind one of metaphysical poets such as Donne when she examines how her hands are the only remaining representation of the union of her parents.
Sparkling like diamonds, I see Shakespeare, the metaphysical poets, the Romantics, and early twentieth-century classics.
In retirement he remarried briefly and, though a practiced curmudgeon, went on enjoying the good things in life, including dogs (especially his chow-chow Kyla); strong coffee; Star Trek (all of them, except maybe DS9) ; mystery books; moccasins; Emily Dickinson; the Red Sox; British history; photography; the Metaphysical Poets; music; single malt scotch; tobacco; the ocean on the Lower Cape; fried crustaceans; and his daughters.
But he also admires Eliot for making the vital connection, in his essay on "The Metaphysical Poets" (1921), between himself and John Donne, between seventeenth and twentieth century poetry: "Eliot was one of the first to point out the similarity between modernist and metaphysical poets; he saw modernism as a contemporary manifestation of baroque sensibility." (6)
The Metaphysical Poets is an audiobook anthology of groundbreaking poetry of the seventeenth century.
In a series of meticulously well-built flashback scenes set at an unidentified university, Vivian is seen at various stages of her career studying and teaching the work of John Donne, the most esteemed and abstruse of 17th century Metaphysical poets. "Nothing but a breath--a comma--separates life from life everlasting," she learns from her academic mentor, played with intellectual gusto by Suzanne Bertish.
In the tradition of the Metaphysical poets (one thinks of John Donne's elaborate conceits in his love poems), Brosman finds in "Radish" a form that can be delightfully made into "small roses in a bed of green," but one that also serves as a conceit for two lovers engaged in intimate consummation:
Openly indebted to the 17th-century metaphysical poets, Clifford's work also recalls their 20th-century heir William Empson, both in linguistic density and in its undercurrent of warmth.
He discusses themes from contemporary authors such as Michael Pollan (The Omnivore's Dilemma) and metaphysical poets such as George Herbert--even citing Herbert's poem "Love." He covers the gamut from Tobit to Abraham, St.
Johnson's chief objections to metaphysical poetry were largely based upon examples "of false wit" that he culled from Cowley, "and they prove not so much the general inadequacy of the metaphysical poets as the ineptness of Cowley himself" (13).