Tuesday, 15 April 2014

M... is for Metaphysical Poets

One of my biggest takeaways from this course is the knowledge of Metaphysical poets and their poetry. According to Wikipedia, "The metaphysical poets is a term coined by the poet and critic Samuel Johnson to describe a loose group of English lyric poets of the 17th century, whose work was characterized by the inventive use of conceits, and by speculation about topics such as love or religion. These poets were not formally affiliated; most of them did not even know each other or read each others work."
How amazing it is to imagine that there have been times when one's work would not have been inspired by another. I, for my part, cannot quite fathom how one creates a genre, how one starts to write without a precedent. John Donne, George Herbert, Henry Vaughan, Andrew Marvell, and Richard Crashaw were the centrepieces of this kind of poetry. Making love could be the bite of a flea, the soul could be a drop of dew and such other metaphors seem blasphemous even today, let alone in the 17th century. Back then, these parallels would be unheard of! I'll leave you with a few lines of Donne's 'Elegy XVIII: Love’s Progress':

Her swelling lips; to which when we are come,
We anchor there, and think ourselves at home,
For they seem all: there sirens’ songs, and there
Wise Delphic oracles do fill the ear;
There in a creek where chosen pearls do swell,
The remora, her cleaving tongue doth dwell.
These, and the glorious promontory, her chin
O’erpast; and the strait Hellespont between
The Sestos and Abydos of her breasts,
(Not of two lovers, but two loves the nests)
Succeeds a boundless sea, but that thine eye
Some island moles may scattered there descry;
And sailing towards her India, in that way
Shall at her fair Atlantic navel stay;
Though thence the current be thy pilot made,
Yet ere thou be where thou wouldst be embayed,
Thou shalt upon another forest set,
Where some do shipwreck, and no further get.
When thou art there, consider what this chase
Misspent by thy beginning at the face.

Thoughts ;) ?
This is the thirteenth post for the April A-to-Z Blogging Challenge 2014.
Previously, Archaism, British literature, Critical Analysis, Drama, Edinburgh, Faust, Gothic Fiction, Humour, Interpretation, Journalling, Keats, Language


Tony Laplume said...

Marvell's "To His Coy Mistress" is the one I remember most.

Mary Montague Sikes said...

Really interesting thoughts. It's so amazing how the Internet has changed the world. Not so long ago, I would never have known your thoughts! Thank you.

Mary Montague Sikes