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University Degree: Donne
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The title of the poem defines the conceit within the piece, and it is immediate within the first stanza that his carefully constructed argument will take place in form of contrast and comparison between the inanimate object of the flea, and the much more contentious subject of virginity and premarital sex. Metaphysical poets were at the time influenced by the renaissance movement and questions about religious morals - one of which being abstinence until marriage, and this subject was popularly argued during the renaissance period.
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When discussing the client, the feminine form will be used: the male form will be used for the counsellor. Gestalt therapy has a number of theoretical ideas about human development, and these theories underpin counselling practice. Firstly, humans are considered as whole, rather than made up of discrete parts. This means, "Man is ... a body, emotions, thoughts, sensations, and perceptions, all of which function interrelatedly" (sic), (Passons 1975 p14). Individuals have personal responsibility for determining their own behaviour (The Gestalt Therapy Page 2001) and need to achieve awareness of all aspects of their being in order to live effectively.
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'poetry, the word at its most eloquent, is one medium which could concentrate our attention on our worst experiences without leaving us with the feeling, as other media can, that life in this century has had its affirmative spirit burnt out'
Both poems chosen for this essay, Initial Illumination and A Cold Coming are anti-Gulf war, and were originally published in The Guardian in March 1991. A Cold Coming uses very short rhyming couplets A/A in structure and containing only eight syllables per line and in doing so creates a very strong poem. This initially, although looking sparse on the page, has strong multiple layers. In blending the horrific, with the everyday, and the political with the personal, Harrison manages to convey to the reader far more, than a simple, yet precise newspaper article or Television news report could, the language
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In What Respects is Twicknam Garden a Metaphysical Poem? How Does Donne Use Imagery Related to Nature? Comment on Donne's Different Attitudes to Love in One or Two Other Poems.
Such a complex idea expressed in few lines is typical of metaphysical poetry. Metaphysical poetry is also characterised by a line of argument being pursued throughout the poem. This is exemplified in "Twicknam Garden" as Donne maintains that love is painful throughout the poem. In the opening lines, he describes the painful effects of love "Blasted with sighs, and surrounded with tears". The lines in the middle of the poem "let me some senseless piece of this place be" express that love is so painful for Donne that he would rather be an emotionless object than feel his pain.
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Another aspect of Donne's early life which undoubtedly affected his work was the death of his father when he was just four years old. Donne's mother remarried almost immediately but despite Donne's infancy at the time he recalled his father's 'love and care' throughout his life yet rarely mentions his mother in any of his writing. This is perhaps significant and undoubtedly the loss of a favoured parent coupled with society's rejection of him must certainly have added to his sense of isolation.
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A primary example of this technique is achieved in "A Valediction: Forbidden Mourning" in which two lovers are physically separated from each other for an unknown period of time. The male forbids his female lover to mourn his departure, citing, "No tear-floods, nor sigh-tempests move, /'Twere profanation of our joys/To tell the laity our love"(Donne 120, lines 6-8). By invoking the spiritual side of love, he is able to coax his lover into not causing a scene when they say goodbye to one another.
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Some critics, however, have attempted to categorise the 'Songs and Sonnets', and Herbert Grierson, in his commentary on Donne's poetical works, claims that there are two major groups to be identified. The first are those poems which are "frankly 'evaporations' of more or less cynical wit, the poems in which he parades his own inconstancy or enlarges on the weaknesses of women"4; and the second, where "the wit in Donne, whether gaily or passionately cynical, is subordinate to the lover, pure and simple, singing, at times with amazing simplicity and intensity of feeling, the joys of love and the sorrow of parting".
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Choose two poems and show in what ways you think they demonstrate the use of argument in John Donne's poetry.
Donne anticipates a physical separation from his beloved and it describes a way of looking at their parting that will help them to avoid the mourning forbidden by the poem's title. The Flea is directed at an unwilling woman who refuses to yield to the lover's desires. Interaction between the subject of the argument in the poem and the speaker does occur, although she does not actually have a spoken voice in the poem Donne paraphrases it. A sense of her voice is portrayed in the poem and we get the feeling that she is not convinced by Donne's claims that they have been united in the flea and this is shown by the change in rhythm.
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