Metaphysical Poets: A short Note
The term metaphysical may be applied to any poetry which deals with spiritual or philosophical matters. But it is limited to the work of a group of poets of the seventeenth century. Metaphysical poetry is a revolt against the popular current of the time. Among these poets John Donne is the most notable. Other so-called metaphysical poets were John Cleveland, Abraham Cowley, Richard Crashaw, George Herbert, Henry Vaughan and Andrew Marvell
1. John Donne: John Donne was the founder of metaphysical school of poetry. He is the greatest poet of this school. His works include Satires, Songs and Sonnets and Elegies. His poetry falls into three divisions - amorous poetry, religious poems and satirical poems. His love poems are subtle analysis of all the moods of a lover. His religious poems are confessions or prayers. His satirical poems reveal his cynical nature and critical mind.
2. George Herbert: Of all the metaphysical poets George Herbert is the most widely read. The Temple reveals his religious zeal. His treatment of religious themes has the simple, unstudied earnestness of Longfellow. The spirit of the age and humour are the important features of his poetry. He was a lover of humanity also.
3. Richard Crashaw: His best work is Steps to the Temple. Some of his poems are secular but he is at his best in his religious poems. To him religion meant everything. His poetry is mainly lyrical.
4. Henry Vaughan: His important works are Olor Iscanus, Silex Scintillans and Thalia Rediviva. Like Crawshaw, he was a mystic. He was more at home in sacred than in secular verse. His poems reveal his good intellectual power and originality.
5. Thomas Carew: His poems show his undoubted lyrical ability. He is neither obscure nor uncouth. All his poetry is the work of an amorist. As a lyric poet he is the first of his age.
6. Abraham Cowely: Cowely was a man of versatile literary interest. He wrote poems, plays, essays and histories. His well-known poems are The Mistress, and The Pindaric Odes. His lyrics are often sweet and graceful.
7. Andrew Marvell: His notable poems are Garden, Upon the Hill, The Gallery, and To His Coy Mistress. They deal with the theme of nature, love and patriotism. They are the finest flowers of serious and secular verse. His work has the subtlety of wit. His rhythms are flexible and his melody delicate.