John Donne : A Medieval Man But A Metaphysical Poet

2279 Words Dec 3rd, 2014 10 Pages
Robyn Leatherwood
ENGL 3313
Dr. Speller
Dec 3, 2014
John Donne: A Medieval Man but A Metaphysical Poet

When examining writings from the Baroque period, John Donne is widely acknowledged as the leader of metaphysical poetry. While there are other well-known writers who made this style of poetry popular, Donne is by far the most discussed and most analyzed. The term metaphysical developed from John Dryden describing Donne’s work as “[affecting] the metaphysics, not only in his satires, but in his amorous verses, where nature should only reign”(Dryden). After this analysis of Donne’s work, others such as Samuel Johnson began to use metaphysical when describing not only Donne’s poetry, but also the other poetry from this period, which was written similarly. According to The Oxford English Dictionary, metaphysical is defined as “senses relating to philosophical speculation or intellectual abstraction” (Simpson). In other words, this poetry is beyond the natural; it takes something physical and pushes the meaning from natural to something philosophical. T.S. Eliot argues that the term metaphysical was only used for Johnson to describe John Donne’s difficult imagery, and therefore we should reconsider using the term so loosely to describe a larger group of poets (Eliot 249). Whether one agree with Eliot or not, upon delving solely into Donne’s poetry, one will see that his work is in fact metaphysical. What John Donne does in his conceits is take something concrete, and…
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