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Dialectic View of the World and Life in Metaphysical Poetry
The term ‘metaphysical’ as a label for the poetry of John Donne and his school has been devoted to a diverse group of 17th century English poets since Dryden first used it. However, word ‘metaphysical’ is misleading, since none of those poets is interested in metaphysics in their poetry. According to Helen Gardner in “The Metaphysical Poets” it was referred to by contemporaries as “strong lines”, a term which suggests that this poetry is more than “nice speculations of philosophy”. Poets to whom the label is applied are Abraham Cowley, Andrew Marvell, John Cleveland, and the religious poets George Herbert, Henry Vaughan, and Richard Crashaw. It is generally taken to display sustained dialectic, paradox, novelty, giving the effect of a ‘speaking voice’, and the use of ‘conceits’ or comparisons. Those contrary modes representing dialectic view of the world of the Metaphysical poetry will be discussed in this essay.
The poetry of Donne has its roots in the Elizabethan poetry of wit. His poetry is central to the metaphysical tradition. …
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