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Metaphysical Poetry - Alienate, delight, puzzle readers

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In the view of some critics, poems of this period have 'delighted, puzzled and alienated readers'. What do you consider to be the demands and rewards for the readers of Metaphysical poetry? Refer in detail to at least three poems from this section of the anthology. You should consider the argument of the poems and the poet's choices of language and verse form. Metaphysical poetry bases its ideas on explaining an extended metaphor, often on important and intellectual subjects such as the transience of life, mans relationship with God and love, in a context that entertains readers rather than boring them. This extended metaphor is known as the metaphysical conceit. It is often subtle, and therefore to some readers can be overlooked. However, for the readers who are able to uncover it, it can provide a deeper insight into the true meaning of the poem and can also make them question their own views on the subject, this is the reward intellectual readers receive from reading metaphysical poetry. Metaphysical poetry is often directed at intellectual readers. Some phrases in the poems would require prior knowledge to understand. ...read more.


The way we can see that this figure is God is due to the use of lexis from the semantic field of religion. Words such as 'sin', 'soul', 'Lord' and 'serve' are all present, and this lexis is common in religious literature. The idea of religion works both ways, however. In To His Coy Mistress, although there is some reference to religion - as discussed earlier - there are also several phrases that don't give an image of religion. The phrases 'deserts of vast eternity' is used to describe the afterlife, and this is an image that many Christians would not believe to be the afterlife. Marvell is suggesting a different view from the idea that everyone will go to either Heaven or Hell, an advanced view for a man living in an extremely religious time. One major device metaphysical poets use is the idea of a metaphysical conceit. All the metaphysical poems uses a metaphor to compare dissimilar things. For example, in Robert Herrick's To Daffodils people are likened to daffodils, in relation to the transience of life. ...read more.


The opening quatrain is written in a mixture of iambic tetrameter and trimeter. This gives it a childish and nursery rhyme like rhythm. This helps to show the reader how the writer is uncaring about the situation, and is almost nonchalant about death. The line 'stay, stay', puts a halt to the childlike rhyme, but in a way could be perceived to make the first stanza sound almost like a lullaby. This makes the poem seem very calm and simple, feelings not usually associated with death and the transience of life. Feeling the effects of this rhythm show the reader the true feelings of the writer in a way many would not see. In conclusion, the metaphysical poets used many different devices to hide away many of the main ideas of their poems. Whilst many readers can understand the basic idea of the poem, they will not gain a full understanding of the point the poet is trying to make unless they have the knowledge and understanding required of a reader of Metaphysical poetry. For this reason, many will feel puzzled and alienated, whilst others will be truly delighted once they have gained the deeper understanding. ...read more.

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