Eliots essay the metaphysical poets
How far is this so-called school or movement a digression from the main current? Eliot gives concrete illustrations to show that such unification of sensibility, such fusion of thought and feeling, is to be found in the poetry of Donne as well as in much of modern poetry, but it is lacking in the poetry of Tennyson.
This is also frequently the method of Donne. According to Eliot, the language of these poets is as a rule simple and pure.
Certainly the reader will meet with many poems already preserved in other anthologies, at the same time that he discovers poems such as those of Aurelian Townshend or Lord Herbert of Cherbury here included.
Eliot are both excellent and admirable poets from different time periods that have very distinct views on what it means to be a true poet.
T.s. eliot metaphysical poets notes
Another technique of metaphysical poetry was the constant use of intellect and metaphors After that the poets can either think or they can feel; there are either intellectual poets who can only think, or there are poets who can only feel. Aux yeux du souvenir que le monde est petit! Secondly, there is Ben Jonson and his, courtly school, of poetry, a kind of poetry which expired in the next century in the verses of Prior. Thirdly, on other occasions Donne produces his effects by sudden contrasts. In the 17th century, a dissociation of sensibility set in and this was aggravated by the influence of the two most powerful poets of the century - Milton and Dryden. Thirdly, the Metaphysicals produce their effects by sudden contrasts. There was another effect of the influence of Milton and Dryden, an effect which was indirect and which manifested itself at a later date. A thought to Donne was an experience; it modified his sensibility. It is something which had happened to the mind of England between the time of Donne or Lord Herbert of Cherbury and the time of Tennyson and Browning; it is the difference between the intellectual poet and the reflective poet. The poets lost the capacity of uniting thought and feeling. However, it is difficult to find any precise use of metaphor, simile or other conceit, which is common to all these poets. The phrase has long done duty as a term of abuse, or as the label of a quaint and pleasant taste. This telescoping of images and multiplied associations is characteristic of the phrase of some of the dramatists of the period which Donne knew: not to mention Shakespeare, it is frequent in Middleton, Webster, and Tourneur, and is one of the sources of the vitality of their language.
Eliot gives concrete illustration to show that such unification of sensibility, such fusion of thought and feeling, is to be found in the poetry of Done and other Metaphysical poets, but it is lacking in the poetry of Tennyson, Browning and the Romantic Poets.
Metaphysical poetry context
It would be a fruitful work, and one requiring a substantial book, to break up the classification of Johnson for there has been none since and exhibit these poets in all their difference of kind and of degree, from the massive music of Donne to the faint, pleasing tinkle of Aurelian Townshend - whose "Dialogue between a Pilgrim and Time" is one of the few regrettable omissions from the excellent anthology of Professor Grierson. Despite the ire of Mr. Eliot, it is extremely difficult to define metaphysical poetry. Like them the modern poet also transmutes into sensations, and transforms feelings into thought or states of mind. There is finally the devotional verse of Herbert, Vaughan, and Crashaw echoed long after by Christina Rossetti and Francis Thompson ; Crashaw, sometimes more profound and less sectarian than the others, has a quality which returns through the Elizabethan period to the early Italians. Only, and unfortunately, this continuity was broken for some time under the influence of Milton and Dryden who are great masters of language, but not of the soul. This book is an admirable piece of criticism in itself, as well as a provocation to criticism. Eliot concludes the essay by saying that Donne, Crashaw, Vaughan, Herbert, Cowley at his best are in the current of English poetry. Rajan, Balachandra. Eliot quotes from Herbert, Cowley, Bishop King and other poets in supports of his contention. They seem to be in a rush. Our civilization comprehends great variety and complexity, and this variety and complexity, playing upon a refined sensibility, must produce various and complex results. They are simple, artificial, difficult, fantastic as their predecessors were. Only such a poetry would be complete; but it would be complex and difficult. Emballages, devergondages, douches!
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