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Compare Ideas and Images in the Six Metaphysical Love Poems

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Compare Ideas and Images in the Six Metaphysical Love Poems Noted for their tendency toward psychological analysis of the emotions, metaphysical poetry offers an extensive range of love poems. The ideas and imagery contained within these poems are habitually written in the form of an extended metaphor, often to support a passionate argument from the poet either with himself, God or, in this case, a lover. Alongside such metaphors, the poets in question also favoured the use of conceits (outrageous puns used to sustain an argument). I hope to pay particular attention to these witty analogies throughout this piece. Despite the brief and concentrated subject matter for each individual poem, the contemporaries of the seventeenth century intended to shock a great majority of the public and their critics with their unconventional rough verse and strained imagery. The six love poems included in this comparison were written by two of the most distinguished metaphysical poets of their time. Andrew Marvell, the son of a vicar, was a Member of Parliament for Hull alongside his position as a successful, yet controversial poet. His poems are: "To His Coy Mistress", "The Picture Of Little T.C. In A Prospect Of Flowers" and "The Fair Singer". John Donne converted from Catholicism to Protestantism at an early age. This contentious attitude is also mirrored in his poetry, where customary convention is forgotten. His poems are: "The Sun Rising", "Elegy: On His Mistress Going To Bed" and "The Flea". Many themes are common throughout all six of the above, and I hope to explore a select few below. The presence of a beautiful female, lusted after by the poet is prominent in each poem. ...read more.


a "marriage temple". The same poet refers to this image again in Elegy: On His Mistress Going To Bed. Donne reassures his mistress that his bed is not a site of corruption, but sacred and comforting. This would have been an effective method of persuading the girl into bed, as was discussed in an earlier paragraph: "In this love's hallow'd temple, this soft bed! However, within a few lines, the religious imagery is no longer sanctified. Donne compares his mistress to an angel, but not because of her purity and innocence, but because she is an object of desire. The reference to angels causing flesh to stand on end would have outraged the church at the time and it appears was deliberately controversial. The Picture Of little T.C. In A Prospect Of Flowers by Andrew Marvell, may also have caused offence as the poet elevated the girl to the position commonly associated with Eve. He imagines her to give names, colours and smells to the flowers: "...tames The wilder flowers, and gives them names:" It seems that the metaphysical poets targeted the church as one of their chief critics, however, in some circumstances, the biblical references are merely present to add support to an argument. For example, in To His Coy Mistress, Marvell uses religion to emphasise his argument that it would not matter how long his beloved took to succumb to him, if time were on their side: "I would Love you ten years before the Flood," The mention of the flood implies that the poet would be willing to love her from the beginning of time right through until the point they make love and beyond. ...read more.


In addition, The Picture Of Little T.C. In A Prospect Of Flowers is a poignant longing on behalf of the poet for the girl to mature to an age which would be acceptable for him to court. However, he is worried that she will become cold towards men. He is not anxious she will refuse his love, but worried she will not sleep with him. By considering this, Marvell has already removed her innocence, in a way. The reference to the loss of innocence as a death proves that the poet does not believe a romance can exist after they sleep together. Love in particular is considered unimportant as far as many of these poems go. I believe that in the previous paragraph I have somewhat expressed my personal opinion on the nature of these six metaphysical poems. To His Coy Mistress and Elegy: On His Mistress Going To Bed are not, I believe, worthy of the heading "love poems" for they are centred around lust on behalf of the poet. There is no evidence of love. These two examples are also relatively simple, there is no mystery surrounding either what the poet desires or why. The Fair Singer and The Sun Rising are my two preferred pieces. In both, the poet is not speaking to his mistress but reminiscing about her. The imagery in this circumstance is far more effective and helps to paint a greater picture of the couple's relationship. Despite this difference, I was surprised at the consistency of the common themes throughout all six poems. This helped me to imagine a seventeenth century society where social morals did not appear to play a grand part in the male seduction techniques, in particular those of the contemporary metaphysical poets. Word Count: 2,878 ...read more.

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