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comparitive literary essays on metaphysical poetry

comparitive literary essays on metaphysical poetryComparitive literary essays on metaphysical poetry -Though no records of his attendance at Cambridge are extant, he may have gone on to study there as well and may have accompanied his uncle Jasper Heywood on a trip to Paris and Antwerp during this time.Yet the poet never gives the impression of forcing a doctrine upon experience.Most of the people Donne praised, alive or dead, were past the age of innocence.Donne uncompromisingly carries this complex conceit of an innocent death right through the two anniversary poems for Elizabeth Drury, disregarding the practical disadvantage that he is thus led to attribute a great deal to a young girl he had not even met.His anxious attempts to gain secular employment in the queen’s household in Ireland, or with the Virginia Company, all came to nothing, and he seized the opportunity to accompany Sir Robert Drury on a diplomatic mission in France in 1612.Some of Donne’s sharpest insights into erotic experience, as his insights into social motives, follow out his sense of the bodily prompting of our most compelling urges, which are thus wholly subject to the momentary state of the physical organism itself.The poetry inhabits an exhilaratingly unpredictable world in which wariness and quick wits are at a premium.Though he was a tradesman, Donne’s father claimed descent from the Herbert family, and his mother was the daughter of John Heywood, epigrammatist and author of interludes.His place in the Egerton household also brought him into acquaintance with Egerton’s domestic circle.Then we get a quick review of issues such as the participation of Englishmen in foreign wars, colonizing expeditions, the Spanish auto-da-fé, and brawls over women or honor in the London streets.From these frustrated years came most of the verse letters, funeral poems, epithalamiums, and holy sonnets, as well as the prose treatises and “To the Countess of Salisbury” register an accelerating decline of our nature and condition in a cosmos that is itself disintegrating.After sailing as a gentleman adventurer with the English expeditions to Cadiz and the Azores in 15, he entered the service of Sir Thomas Egerton, the lord keeper of England.Poems so vividly individuated invite attention to the circumstances that shaped them.In “The First Anniversary” the poet declares, “mankind decays so soon, / We are scarce our fathers’ shadows cast at noon.” Donne contends that at this late stage of creation we exhibit a pitiful falling off from the early state of humankind.For we seek to order a degenerating cosmos with our decaying faculties and to impose a stable pattern upon a condition of continual flux that we cannot even adequately measure, as Donne claims in “The Second Anniversary.” In this condition of gathering uncertainty the very latest of our so-called discoveries are likely to be the most unsettling, as shown in these lines from “The First Anniversary”: And new philosophy calls all in doubt, The element of fire is quite put out; The sun is lost, and th’earth, and no man’s wit Can well direct him where to look for it. On the contrary, the offer a sure way out of spiritual dilemma: “thou hast but one way, not to admit / The world’s infection, to be none of it” (“The First Anniversary”).For some 30 years after his death successive editions of his verse stamped his powerful influence upon English poets.Donne’s father died in January 1576, and within six months Elizabeth Donne had married John Syminges, an Oxford-educated physician with a practice in London.Donne’s love poetry expresses a variety of amorous experiences that are often startlingly unlike each other, or even contradictory in their implications.Some months elapsed before Donne dared to break the news to the girl’s father, by letter, provoking a violent response.Donne was born in London between 24 January and 19 June 1572 into the precarious world of English recusant Catholicism, whose perils his family well knew. His mother, Elizabeth (Heywood) Donne, a lifelong Catholic, was the greatniece of the martyred Sir Thomas More.comparitive literary essays on metaphysical poetryBut in the present state of the world, and ourselves, the task becomes heroic and calls for a singular resolution.Donne’s career and personality are nonetheless arresting in themselves, and they cannot be kept wholly separate from the general thrust of his writing, for which they at least provide a living context.The drift of Donne’s argument holds all these concerns together and brings them to bear upon the divisions of Christendom that lead men to conclude that any worldly cause must be more worthy of their devotion than the pursuit of a true Christian life.The marriage was eventually upheld; indeed, More became reconciled to it and to his son-in-law, but Donne lost his job in 1602 and did not find regular employment again until he took holy orders more than twelve years later.The incessant play of a skeptical intelligence gives even these love poems the style of impassioned reasoning.Donne and his helpful friends were briefly imprisoned, and More set out to get the marriage annulled, demanding that Egerton dismiss his amorous secretary.” The movement of the poem amounts to a sifting of the relative claims on our devotion that commonly distract us from our absolute obligation to seek the truth.Yet the burden of the poems is that Elizabeth Drury’s death has shown us all how to resist the corrupting force of the world.Many modern editions of the poetry impose categorical divisions that are unlikely to correspond to the order of writing, separating the love poetry from the satires and the religious poetry, the verse letters from the epithalamiums and funeral poems.Yet we have no warrant to read Donne’s poetry as a record of his life or the expression of his inner disquiets.Such amendment of corruption is the true purpose of our worldly being: “our business is, to rectify / Nature, to what she was” (“To Sir Edward Herbert, at Juliers”).It is known that he entered Lincoln’s Inn in May 1592, after at least a year of preliminary study at Thavies Inn, and was at least nominally a student of English law for two or more years.His high place in the pantheon of the English poets now seems secure.The history of Donne’s reputation is the most remarkable of any major writer in English; no other body of great poetry has fallen so far from favor for so long and been generally condemned as inept and crude.Donne does not seek to celebrate a uniquely miraculous nature or a transcendental virtue.The were evidently not conceived as a single body of love verses and do not appear so in early manuscript collections.The verse letters and funeral poems celebrate those qualities of their subjects that stand against the general lapse toward chaos: “Be more than man, or thou’art less than an ant” (“The First Anniversary”).May the pagan philosophers be saved before Christian believers?Some of Donne’s finest love poems, such as “A Valediction: Forbidding Mourning,” prescribe the condition of a mutual attachment that time and distance cannot diminish: Dull sublunary lovers’ love (Whose soul is sense) cannot admit Absence, because it doth remove Those things which elemented it.On the contrary, his skepticism sums up his sense of the way the world works. comparitive literary essays on metaphysical poetry Moreover, the poems propose that a countering force is at work that resists the world’s frantic rush toward its own ruin.Donne characterizes our natural life in the world as a condition of flux and momentariness, which we may nonetheless turn to our advantage, as in “Woman’s Constancy.” In such a predicament our judgment of the world around us can have no absolute force but may at best measure people’s endeavors relative to each other, as Donne points out in “Metempsychosis”: There’s nothing simply good, nor ill alone, Of every quality comparison, The only measure is, and judge, opinion.A tried election of virtue is possible, though rarely achieved, which resists the common depravity of the Fall.Throughout the 18th century, and for much of the 19th century, he was little read and scarcely appreciated.As an innocent person presents a pattern of our uncorrupted state, so an innocent death is an ambiguous event; for in itself it is no death at all; yet in its effects it reenacts the primal calamity.This poem moves forward as a kind of dramatic argument in which the chance discovery of the flea itself becomes the means by which they work out the true end of their love.Yet at some time in his young manhood Donne himself converted to Anglicanism and never went back on that reasoned decision.The mode of reasoning is characteristic: Donne calls in a variety of circumstances, weighing one area of concern against another so that we may appraise the present claim in relation to a whole range of unlike possibilities: “Is not this excuse for mere contraries, / Equally strong; cannot both sides say so?So complex or downright contradictory is our state that quite opposite possibilities must be allowed for within the scope of a single assertion, as in confront us with a bizarre medley of moral questions: Should the corrupted state of religion prompt our anger or our grief?He excoriates a blind world that unknowingly owes what little vitality it still retains to the virtue of a few moral prodigies who mediate Christ’s own virtue, having the quasi-alchemic power to turn “Leaden and iron wills to good” and make “even sinful flesh like his” (“Resurrection, Imperfect”).Throughout his middle years he and his wife brought up an ever-increasing family with the aid of relatives, friends, and patrons, and on the uncertain income he could bring in by polemical hackwork and the like.During the Restoration his writing went out of fashion and remained so for several centuries.But we by a love, so much refined, That our selves know not what it is, Inter-assured of the mind, Care less, eyes, lips, and hands to miss.Exploiting and being exploited are taken as conditions of nature, which we share on equal terms with the beasts of the jungle and the ocean.In October 1584 Donne entered Hart Hall, Oxford, where he remained for about three years.Donne consoles a mourning woman with the conceit that she now incorporates her dead companion’s virtues with her own, and has thus acquired the power to preserve both their beings from corruption: “You that are she and you, that’s double she” (“To the Countess of Bedford”).The more perilous the encounters of clandestine lovers, the greater zest they have for their pleasures, whether they seek to outwit the disapproving world, or a jealous husband, or a forbidding and deeply suspicious father, as in , “The Perfume”: Though he had wont to search with glazed eyes, As though he came to kill a cockatrice, Though he have oft sworn, that he would remove Thy beauty’s beauty, and food of our love, Hope of his goods, if I with thee were seen, Yet close and secret, as our souls, we have been.Ann More and Donne may well have met and fallen in love during some earlier visit to the Egerton household; they were clandestinely married in December 1601 in a ceremony arranged with the help of a small group of Donne’s friends.The poems he released were passed around in manuscript and transcribed by his admirers singly or in gatherings. When the first printed edition of his poems was published in 1633, two years after his death, the haphazard arrangement of the poems gave no clue to the order of their composition.The tension of the poetry comes from the pull of divergent impulses in the argument itself. comparitive literary essays on metaphysical poetry Such virtuous beings rectify nature to what it was in their own bodies, so interfusing sense and spirit as to make an intelligent organism of the body itself, as depicted in “The Second Anniversary”: we understood Her by her sight, her pure and eloquent blood Spoke in her cheeks, and so distinctly wrought, That one might almost say, her body thought.Its extraordinary appeal to modern readers throws light on the Modernist movement, as well as on our intuitive response to our own times.Two lovers who have turned their backs upon a threatening world in “The Good Morrow” celebrate their discovery of a new world in each other: Let sea-discoverers to new worlds have gone, Let maps to others, worlds on worlds have shown, Let us possess one world, each hath one, and is one.In “The Anniversary” he is not just being inconsistent when he moves from a justification of frequent changes of partners to celebrate a mutual attachment that is simply not subject to time, alteration, appetite, or the sheer pull of other worldly enticements.This flea is you and I, and this Our marriage bed, and marriage temple is; Though parents grudge, and you, we’ are met, And cloistered in these living walls of jet.In “The Flea” an importunate lover points out a flea that has been sucking his mistress’s blood and now jumps to suck his; he tries to prevent his mistress from crushing it: Oh stay, three lives in one flea spare, Where we almost, nay more than married are.Robert Browning became a known (and wondered-at) enthusiast of Donne, but it was not until the end of the 1800s that Donne’s poetry was eagerly taken up by a growing band of avant-garde readers and writers. In the first two decades of the 20th century Donne’s poetry was decisively rehabilitated.He pointedly declines to take the girl for an emanation of the divine spirit, another Beatrice who rose above the flesh in her life and transcends the world finally in her death.On the contrary, Elizabeth Drury is celebrated for human excellences that are spiritually refined in themselves.With the loss of her preserving balm the world falls sick and dies, even putrefies, leaving the poet only the task of anatomizing it so as to demonstrate its corruption.He is not a poet for all tastes and times; yet for many readers Donne remains what Ben Jonson judged him: “the first poet in the world in some things.” His poems continue to engage the attention and challenge the experience of readers who come to him afresh.What obligation of piety do children owe to their fathers in return for their religious upbringing?Egerton’s brother-in-law was Sir George More, parliamentary representative for Surrey, whose family seat was Loseley House near Guildford in Surrey.In “A Valediction: Of my Name in the Window,” the lover’s name scratched in his mistress’s window ought to serve as a talisman to keep her chaste; but then, as he explains to her, it may instead be an unwilling witness to her infidelity: When thy inconsiderate hand Flings ope this casement, with my trembling name, To look on one, whose wit or land, New battery to thy heart may frame, Then think this name alive, and that thou thus In it offend’st my Genius.Donne may well have composed them at intervals and in unlike situations over some 20 years of his poetic career.Our attempts to know the world by means of our natural powers are inevitably misconceived.More came up to London for an autumn sitting of Parliament in 1601, bringing with him his daughter Ann, then 17.He shows us how an innocent young girl effectively embodied in her own human nature the qualities that alone preserve the natural creation and why her death reenacts the withdrawal of those qualities from the world.Commentators followed Samuel Johnson in dismissing his work as no more than frigidly ingenious and metrically uncouth.In “Farewell to Love” the end that lovers so passionately pursue loses its attraction at once when they have gained it. comparitive literary essays on metaphysical poetry Most of the people Donne praised, alive or dead, were past the age of innocence. comparitive literary essays on metaphysical poetry




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