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Discuss the meaning of the term metaphysical with regard to three poems in the book. You should pay close attention to how metaphysical poets emphasise language.

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Introduction

Q: Discuss the meaning of the term metaphysical with regard to three poems in the book. You should pay close attention to how metaphysical poets emphasise language. Metaphysical poetry is poetry that explores a branch of philosophy that deals with the nature of existence and of knowledge. There are a number of trademark characteristics that feature in these poems that technically define them as metaphysical. Some of these features include the use of intellectual and reasoned persuasion, conceits, confrontational arguments and personification. In this book the metaphysical section looks at poems written before 1770 and by analysing three poems, I am hoping to identify the features that are most common in metaphysical poetry. I think it is important to discuss these features in order of importance to try and identify the main features with which you could identify a metaphysical poem. The poems I will look at are "To His Coy Mistress", by Andrew Marvell, "The Sun Rising", by John Donne, and "To Daffodils", by Robert Herrick. Immediately, by looking at these poems, I can see that the purpose of all three poems is to persuade using reasoned logical arguments. In, "To His Coy Mistress", with a series of arguments, Marvell is trying to persuade his shy love interest to have a sexual affair with him. This form of structured argument is favoured as oppose to the traditional practise of courting a woman. ...read more.

Middle

He says the sun is "unruly" to rise and a "saucy pedantic wretch". From this, he is telling the sun that he is outrageous for halting his enjoyment and at the same time desperately dull for not appreciating how wonderful sex is. This use of opposites is otherwise known as an oxymoron. He tells the sun to go and wake up other people, like the "king", and the "the schoolboys and sour pretences" because he is wasting his energy on someone who doesn't care. For him and his lover do not care for "the rags of time" because their love is stronger than time, "Love, all alike, no season knows nor clime." He also asks him why he feels so powerful, "so reverend and strong" when his lover shines more brightly than the sun, and that he is surprised that "her eyes have not blinded thine." In this argument Donne is trying to belittle the sun, steal his confidence and therefore, persuade him to leave him in peace. In "Daffodils", Herrick is trying to persuade the flowers that he loves so dearly, to stay with him forever, begging, "stay stay." He compares the life cycle of a daffodil to that of humans explaining that like spring flowers have a short life, so do people. ...read more.

Conclusion

The last feature that occurs in all three of these poems is the use of personification. In "To His Coy Mistress", time is personified when he tells his mistress that "time's winged chariot hurrying near" means they are really fighting a personal battle with time, a war in which they have no way of winning if they do not seize the moment and have sex. In "The Sun Rising", the whole poem is dedicated to the sun, indicating that the sun indeed has human characteristics in the eyes of John Donne. Further evidence of this is when he labels the sun as a "busy old fool" which clearly personifies the sun. In "To Daffodils", the same principle applies when Herrick dedicates a whole poem to persuading the flowers not to leave him. By using the personal pronoun, "you" to address the daffodils he is personifying them as though they were humans. This love of personification by metaphysical poets is not the most prominent characteristic of metaphysical poems but it does feature in all three poems, so evidently it is one of the favoured devices. From my analysis there are many features which tend to define metaphysical poetry that occur frequently, and there are many more that I have not mentioned in this essay. However for me, these three are the characteristics that crop up most in these particular poems and undoubtedly, the use of a logical structured argument is not only popular but in most cases is the central purpose of the poem. ...read more.

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