Metaphysical poetry

  • Created by: JCarver
  • Created on: 27-05-15 11:19

The Sun Rising

  • Young lothario day; intensity of ego 
  • Little presence of women; egocentric and boastful 
  • No overt declaration of love 
  • Strongly intellectual conceit, deisgned to impress 
  • Challenges concentions of Petrarchan love 
  • Reverses aubade as irreverent address to the sun

1st stanza 

  • Conceit; sun as old man who wakes people 
  • Go and wake resentful apprentices/ court huntsmen/ ants 
  • Insulting/impudent tone "saucy wretch" "busie old fool"
  • Transcendental moment in couplet; love knows no seasons/times because it has timeless reality
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The Sun Rising 2

2nd stanza 

  • Conceit: geographical discovery/ polictics; world is pale comparison of power and riches in his bed 
  • Sun beams not strong; easily blocked by closing eyes, but he wont lose sight of his lover 
  • Asks sun where riches of spice/gold are to be found 
  • All of the power of kings/glory/riches lie in speaker's bed 
  • Transcendental moment: "All here in one bed lay"

3rd stanza

  • Conceit: political imagery; lover is all states and all leaders 
  • Royalty only mimics their power/wealtg like alchemy (pretence of science) 
  • Sun is only half as happy as they are because its single 
  • Old sun would ahve easier life by only warming lovers' bedrooms; centre of earth 
  • Their bed os centre of sun's orbit; their room is everything in the world 
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The Sun Rising 3


  • Highly patterned 
  • carying line lenght - shifting punchy brevity to elegance 
  • Complicated, elegant rhyme sceheme; argument soldified with rhyming couplet
  • Shifting rhythm 
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A Valediction of Weeping - Donne

  • Organic concepts follow logically 
  • As part of D's service as gentleman of court he had to make long voyages 

1st stanza 

  • Conceit: water 
  • Conceit: navigation 
  • Compares speed of making globe to microcosmic world which the lover's tears can create
  • As woman considers the distnace they will be apart, the tears swell in size, risking an "overflow" flooding their world
  • If she keeps crying, it will kill him emotionally and metaphorically by causing flood; deluge will kill him
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A Valediction of Weeping 2

3rd stanza 

  • Raises lover to goldy status "more than moon" who can drown him with tears/cause high winds by her sighs 
  • Sighing takes away oxygeb; "Who'er sighs most is cruellest, and hastes the other's death"
  • Reference to sea voyage/travelling 


  • Quatrain, couplet, triple rhyme 
  • Last 2 lines of verse summarise conceit 
  • Monosyllabic and colloquial lang = sincerity 


  • Distance makes us stronger - Gatsby and Daisy, Correlli and Mandras 
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Batter my Heart - Donne

  • One of Donne's collections of 'Divine Poems' 
  • Written in middle period of life; years of disappointment, ill-health, financial insecurity 
  • Speaker tries to examine and discipline his mind with willful display D's intelligence 
  • Speaker pre-occupied with fear of Calvinist beliefs of pre-destined fate 
  • Vitality of earlier poems replaced with despair 
  • Aural poem; sounds like assualt on castle - plosive alliteration/ onomatopoeia 


  • Conceit: God as sieging army/ soul as a castle 
  • Violent presentation of God; Old Testament style
  • Wants God to "force, to break, blow, burn" - masochistic
  • "usurp'd town" - biblical reference to Jericho, town of tainted people, sieged by God 
  • References to being more aligned with the devil; 'to another due", "bethroth'd unto your enemy"
  • Marital references: "proves weak or untrue", "divorce me, untie or break that knot again"
  • Closing paradoxical argument: speaker "never shall be free, nor ever chaste, unless you ravish me" (subjugate me to god's will/ spiritually ****"
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Batter my Heart 2

Further comentary

  • Petrarchan sonnet form is fitting as main theme of poem is desire
  • Poem becomes intimate portrayal of D's sould persuadig God to enter his sinful life and grant him salvation 
  • Donne takes analogy of passion and spiritual fufilment to its extreme in his equatio of religious devotion and sexual assault 


  • Repeated stress and plosive 'b" of the trochaic "Batter my Heart" = dramatic immediacy 
  • Forecful rhythm f-shadows violence of later imagert 
  • Colloquial tone + direct address to God = reinforces personal nature of poem 
  • Repeated accents and uneven stresses create a contorted meter which emphasies the masochistic nature of the contrite speaker 
  • Soul is anthropomorphsoses as female figure - fshadows the audacious anthropomorphism of God as seducer 
  • Transition to imabic pentamenter in final line s= spekaer found spiritual resolution/peace 
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Elegy 20: To His Mistress Going to Bed - Donne

  • Donne praises sensual pleasure of sex but it is not a love poem
  • Speaker only wants to have sex with woman; lust poem 
  • Presented structurally in continuous verse + rhyming couplets; continuity and driving rhythm comparable to sex; sense of confidence in his argument 
  • Unstaisfying lack of female voice 


  • Opens with repeated imperative; "Come, Madam, come, all rest my powers defy"
  • Domineering and demanding lover; "Off with that girdle", "Off with that happy busk" "My America! My new found-land""Then where my hand is set, my seal shall be" 
  • Possesive jealousy; "That th'eyes of busy fools may be stopped there"
  • Base sexual references; "Is tir'd with standing though he never fight" "our flesh upright" "License my roving hands, and let them go before, behind"
  • Grows impatient with romantic imagery of courtly love used to woo her so makes robust comparison between her jewelled heapiece and hair revelaed in her nakedness
  • Final shocking instructions: "As liberally, as to a midwife, shew thy self"
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Elegy 20: To His Mistress Going to Bed 2


  • Superficial nature only wanting sex - link to superficial society of GG and lack of rships
  • Base physiclaity and lust - link to Pelagis and Mandras' lustful rship 
  • Persuasive forcefulness for sex - link to The Flea, To his Coy Mistress
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The Good Morrow - Donne

  • Defies conventions of Petrarchan love in theme of requited/returned love 
  • Takes you on journey from domestic breastfeeding to the spiritual/philosophical 
  • D creates central empahtic voice that argues life without love is worthless 

1st stanza 

  • Series of questions with declarative answers 
  • What did we do before we were in love? 
  • Moves from clumsy, immature sex to adult love; rejects past loves as foolish, only shadows of the relaity he finds in his lover 
  • Compares himself + lover to 7 Christians from Epheus who walked in cave and woke 187yrs later ; time without her was like the 187 yrs

2nd stanza 

  • Blissful contentment; celebrating waking in bed together 
  • No fear of commitment or adultery ; "Which watch not one another out of fear"
  • Love balances all feelings; "For love, all other sights control" - perfect harmoney 
  • Totality of experience of true love; "...and makes one little room"; room is whole universe 
  • Uninterested in "sea-discoverers" - his world is his love + him; fusion of their worlds 
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The Good Morrow 2

3rd stanza 

  • Their world of love is so unearthly that its hemispheres are free from coldness/decay; "Without sharp north, without declining west?" 
  • Medieval belief that death/decay/disease results from unbalanced body; their love is perfectly balanced and so eternal; "Love so alike that none do slacken, none can die."


  • Modern day audience can relate to all-encompassing love; Correlli and Pelagia 
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The Collar - Herbert

  • Speaker is angry and feels limited by God, wants to ejoy "double pleasures"
  • Becomes reoslute decision to acheive maximum pleasure, but at peak of his anger, God speaks to him and his faith is restored 
  • Diffifult for C21st reader; not as religious/ aware of religious customs 
  • Iambic meter with varied line lenghts; takes form of arguments; random form is conversational
  • Random form reads like histrionic soliloquy + shows indiscipline of religious spirit 


  • Restraints; "collar", "cage", "rope"
  • Harvest; "wine", "corn", "fruit"
  • Service to God
  • The Collar - clothing to control; role of the priest to God 


  • Opening is abrupt, dramatic, evoking violent action in colloquial manner; "I struck the board..."
  • 2nd stanza takes on more personal notes. Image of "harvest", the poet lamnets that his only harvest has been a thorn 
  • 3rd stanza lamentation continues, compares his life to those who enjoy worldy pleasures 
  • 4th stanza, more aggressive, criticisng God's view of right/wrong, wants to gorge on pleasure 
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The Collar 2

  • 5th stanza poet loses hold on his argument, declares to quit being a priest. Reveals he cannot shoulder the responsibility of the job; "He that forbears, to suit and serve his need, deserves his load"
  • Last stanza is a resultant anticlimax. Speaker comes out of his "pettie thoughts" ans hears God calling "Childe", to which he repsonds "My Lord"
  • Instantly the distressed speaker is silenced and the discontent passed 
  • God's presence exposes the hollowness of his complaints


  • Qus + many short lines = fitful/unenven quality with no fluency of movement until final quatrain
  • Past tense = poem of reflection/ discernment/analysis, dramatic moment relived


  • R'ship with God is often unfufilling; like Carlo's rship with God and Batter My Heart 
  • God acts as a restraint to reckless enjoyment of "double pleasures"; GG society needs guiding hand of God as they endlessly enjoy worldly pleasures but are empty, like the speaker's complaints 
  • Shares strong sense of argument like many metaphysical poets 
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The Pulley - Herbert

  • Central contextual point of Pandora's box; God gave Pandora a box not to open but she did and so released innumerbale plagues and sorrows on the world
  • Here, Herbert says that when God made man he poured all his blessings on him, except "rest" otherwise man would worship the gifts and not God 
  • Process of pulling man back to God conveyed through "the pulley" conceit; strong influence of science at time of writing 
  • Surprising H conveys a religious notion through a scientific image; the 2 did not fit easily 
  • Simple, everyday language to convey complex set of ideas 
  • Reader will come to realise that God is only seeking whats best for humans; to choose the right path 
  • Herbert is saying God has created man, and all humans make mistakes, so God has craeted a metaphorical "pulley" that reminds humans who they should worship etc 


  • God acting as guiding moral pulley: GG society lacks moral compass and presence of God 
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The Definition of Love - Marvell

  • Directed to Mary Fairfax, his beloved yet higher class tutee, he could never be with 
  • Ontological poem; studies the nature of existence or being as such
  • M explores the love r'ship and state of being in love 
  • Language of mathematics and cosmology 
  • Fate personified as female, using Greek mythology; as hostile and jealous lover 
  • Tone of suppressed frustration 
  • Very tight, economic verse form, learned from Latin poets = enigmsatic and paradoxical. Metre can pass from simple monosyllables to technical/abstract polysyllables with fluency
  • Verse form is basically  imabic tetrameter 
  • Each quatrain is self contained sentence
  • Rhyme words are mostly monosyllabic but sometimes surprisingly not; "tear" with "planisphere"


  •  Neo-platonic view of love; the physical is less important than spiritual - Carlo&Fran, D&G, Nick&Jordan lacked the spiritual
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The Definition of Love 2

  • 1st stanza; immeditely sets up love as an impossible one; "begotten by despair upon impossibility"
  • 2nd stanza; "magnanimous despair" was what showed him a love "divine"; oxymoron the love is more beautiful because he can't have it; through despair he sees how precious love is 
  • 3rd/4th stanza; fate sen how perfect they are together and has come "betwixd"and it would be "her ruin" if they were together - implies love supersedes all, could bring down "tyrannic" fate. 
  • M compares fate to "iron"/"steel" showing how immovable fate is 
  • 5th stanza; compares lovers to the earth's "poles", making the distance between them insurmountable but vital. Earth spins on poles and would lose direction without them; love as guiding force - emotion crucial to life
  • Takes on neo-platonic view of love, where physical love, Eros, is seen as beneath the spiritual 
  • 6th stanza; "to join" the lovers would spell disaster 
  • 7th stanza; sloping, oblique line = love not as true as theirs as those lovers will meet and love each other. M&beloved are "truly parallel", doomed to forever follow but never be together
  • 8th stanza; conclusion
  • Note never refers to beloved by name; only talks about the emotion
  • Poem meant for male intellectual coterie, admired for his profiency in conceits + lang
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A Letter to Her Husband - Bradstreet

  • B writes letter to her husband, who is away on business 
  • Tender/intimate poem exploring love from a woman's perspective 
  • B resented misognist Puritan belief that woman were intellectually and overall inferior to men 
  • Conceits: navigation, astronomy, nature 
  • Written in rhyming couplets; unity of 2- can't think of herself without him; 
  • Intentional epistle (letter) format 


  • Compares husband to the seasons; husband is her sun and when he is with her its always summer; when he leaves its winter; "Return, return, sweet sol, from Capricorn"; "my chilled limbs now numbed"
  • Compares missing husband to mouring; "mourn in black" - serious tone 
  • Accepts that situation is inevitable; "Till nature's sad decree shall call thee hence" 
  • Likens herself to the earth in winter, lamenting "in black" - receeding light + feeling "chilled"
  • Children are respite from her forlorness, reminders of her husband; "view those fruits which through thy heart I bore?"
  • Wants husband to never leave; "I wish my Sun may never set"
  • Even when separated by death they will remain "both but one"
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Letter to Her Husband 2


  • Dead without her husband;"in this dead time" - link to Pelagia's dead time without Correlli, G's dead without Daisy; stuck in time 
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A Song - Carew

  • Solely aesthetic poem
  • Rhyming couplets create a song rhythm 
  • Anaphoric signifinace in poem; "Ask me no more..."; everything he needs is in this woman and that his love for her can answer all questions 


  • 1st stanza; Conceit = beauty of flowers is inspired by her beauty 
  • 2nd stanza; Heaven/gods prepare sun beams "golden atoms" to "enrich" her beautiful hair 
  • 3rd stanza; Nightingale doesn't hibernate, it spends winter in her throat; voice is as beuatiful + sweet as nightingale's song; "nightingale when May is past, for in your sweet dividing throat she winters"
  • 4th stanza; Cosmology conceit; in the daytime the stars sit in her eyes - beautiful eyes;"For in your eyes they sit"
  • 5th stanza; her beauty is eternal like the eternal "phoenix" who rises from the ashes. She's so beautiful the phoenix chooses to rise + die in her bosom; "and in your fragrant bosom dies" - she is the origin of life
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A Song (Carew) 2


  • Solely aesthetic poem - link to Correlli + Pelagia; she completes him; mulit-faceted/complex/intricate 
  • Elevates his beloved to godly status but isnt true love - link to Mandras's deification of Pelagia
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A Nocturnal Upon St.Lucy's Day - Donne

  • Funeral elegy; meditation upon death where D faces own mortality + offers himself as memento mori
  • D spirituality = life is menaningless and only thing that matters is a good death 
  • Personal poem using heretical/blasphemous imagery


  • "For I am every dead thing, In whom love wrought new alchemy"; he is the personification of death + love purifies the soul so D becomes noble and no longer base 
  • "He ruined me, and I am begot" - love ruined him because he is so grieved 
  • "I should prefer, If I were any beast" - prefer to be an animal as they ahve reason to live; feels like he has no reason to stay alive 


  • Lack of purpose in life  - link to Carlo's emotional outpouring/ lamentation after death of Francesco, link to Mandras' drowning after ****** P and being disowned by his mother 
  • Person being a reason to live - Daisy is Gatsby's reason to live 
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Song - Donne

  • Bitter/cynical/argumentative tone 
  • Sense of dialogue with someone 
  • Sense of lawyer presenting logical argument; high rhetoric of conveying point of view
  • Anti-courtly love 


  • Opens with fabulous,mystic,supernatural imagery suggesting these impossibilities are as liekly as finding an honest woman; "Go and catch a falling star"
  • "Nowhere lives a woman true, and fair" - there are no honest beautiful women 
  • "If thou find'st one, let me know" If you find a beautiful woman who is true, let me know 
  • "Such a pilgrimage were sweet"; it would be sweet to meet such a woman 
  • "Yet she will be false, ere I come, to two or three"; even if she were true, she'd betray you in 3 seconds 


  • Cynical view of women - compare to cynical/dishonest Gatsby society; no women are pure/true/innocent and beautiful 
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To His Coy Mistress - Marvell

  • Speaker trying to convince woman to go to bed with him 
  • 3 stanzas 

1st stanza

  • "Had we but world enough, and time" - If we had enough time he would court her 
  • Compares her to the exotic Ganges and he is the river Humber in Hull 
  • "I would love you ten years before the flood" - he would love her from the beginning to the end of time 
  • "My vegetable love should grow" - organic, naturally developing, blossoming love + sexual reference to his errection 
  • "An hundred years should go to praise..." - she deserves the admiration of 1000 ages 
  • "you deserve this state; nor would i love at lower rate" - doesn't deserve to be loved at any less than an elevated state 

2nd stanza

  • Aware of time running out; "But at my back I always hear time's winged chariot hurrying near"
  • "Thy beauty shall no more be found" - her beauty won't last forever 
  • "Then worms shall try that long preserved virginity" - worms will take virginity in grave, if he doesn't
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To His Coy Mistress 2

2nd stanza

  • "And your quaint honour turn to dust; and into ashes all my lust" - honour doesn't matter in death and all his sexual desire will burn up for all time; preserving virginity is pointless
  • Tries to scare her with "The grave's a fine and private place, but none, I think, do there embrace" - idea of body in stasis, she will be forever lonely and unfulfilled 

3rd stanza

  • "Now therefore, while the youthful glue sits on thy skin like morning dew" - have fun while you're young and beautiful 
  • "Now let us sport while we may" - lets have sex while we can because "rather at once our time devour" time is forever running out; don't waste time
  • "We cannot make our sun stand still, yet we will make him run" - The sun (symbolic of time) will never stop moving, the days will carry on but whenever we have sex, we pursue time, instead of time pursuing us 


  • Persuading woman to have sex; The Flea 
  • Defying social expectations and making the most of life; Pelagia and Correlli
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