Erin's Poetry Tips

40 tips to poetry and poetry forums

Tuesday, April 26, 2005

Metaphysical Poetry


1. Based on speculative or abstract reasoning.
2. Highly abstract or theoretical; abstruse.
3. Immaterial; incorporeal.
4. Supernatural.

Metaphysical Conceit
Metaphysical conceits are noteworthy specifically for their lack of conventionality. In general, the metaphysical conceit will use some sort of shocking or unusual comparison as the basis for the metaphor. They are highly ingenious metaphors that appeal to the intellect and use verbal logic to sometimes ridiculous lengths.
When it works, a metaphysical conceit has a startling appropriateness that makes us look at something in an entirely new way.

Metaphysical Poetry:
Of or relating to the poetry of a group of 17th-century English poets whose verse is characterized by an intellectually challenging style and extended metaphors comparing very dissimilar things.

Metaphysical poets tend to rebel against the conventional imagery and rhythms of main stream poetry. Their poems are generally intellectually complex, honest (though in a non-conventional voice) and reflect the writer’s sense of confusion and conflict within themselves and with their surroundings. Their poems also usually sound rough compared to non-metaphysical poetry and can lack lyric smoothness and sense of flow. They tend to use the jumpiness and irregular sounds to reflect their content.

Metaphysical poets also use unusual or shocking imagery to portray their subject.
Because of their unconventionality these poems are generally misunderstood by many readers. They can sometimes find that it is too complex to be sure they’ve gotten the correct impression. This too is something the writer tends to use as a pro rather than a con, further proving to the reader that there are alternate ways of seeing, and voicing the most mundane of ideas.

Metaphysical poetry was a movement started by John Donne, in the 17th century. He was ridiculed for the way he rebelled against the style of poetry written then, and metaphysical poets still experience this same closed-mindedness and misunderstanding on the part of the general public.


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