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Metaphysical, Cavalier, and Puritan Poetry

Metaphysical Poetry
Metaphysical = after or following the physical; a branch of philosophy that seeks to know what is truly real Characteristics:
Use of argument: appeals to intellect and emotions Use of comparison: metaphysical conceit (extended metaphor that compares 2 very unlike things) Use of language: plain style

John Donne
B. 1572; Roman Catholic at a time when England was anti-Catholic Conceited verses written in younger years (The Flea) Poor (lost his government position due to scandal); became very depressed

John Donne
Friends urged him to enter the ministry because of the power of his religious poems Became a minister at 43; soon became chaplain to King James I By the time he died (1631), was considered the greatest preacher in England

A Valediction: Forbidding Mourning


Valediction = farewell statement
Written for his wife just before he left for France; purpose was to ease his wifes fears of a premonition she had about his trip Metaphysical conceit = lovers to the feet of a compass

Death Be Not Proud


Written soon after his wifes death Donnes thoughts on immortality and religious faith Personification

Meditation 17
At age 51, Donne became seriously ill Wrote Meditation 17 as he was recovering Meditation = short sermon; expresses his thoughts on his illness and experience Bells = signal death; villagers knew to pray for the soul of the dead/dying Extended metaphysical conceit

Ben Jonson
Large man; fiery temper Self-taught (no money for formal education); apprenticed with a bricklayer, entered army Began acting/writing in early 20s First big success at age 26 (play that featured Shakespeare in a leading role)

Ben Jonson
Killed a fellow actor in a duel and was sentenced to death Because he could read Latin, was allowed to be tried in church court Church court overturned death sentence; branded on the thumb as a convicted felon Resented comparisons to Shakespeare (Jonson was more respected at the time) Age 49King James I gave him a lifetime pension (hed always be able to write) Took a year off, but when he returned, his writing had gone out of style; spent the last 20 years of his life trying to regain his former status

On My First Son / Song: To Celia


Elegy = poem expressing mourning Son, Benjamin, died of the plague in 1603, on his 7th birthday Benjamin (Hebrew) = Child of my right hand

Unrequited love Ambrosia = drink of the gods (immortality)

Cavalier Poetry
Writers affiliated with King Charles Is court Characteristics:
Carpe diem = seize the day Intended to entertain audience rather than instruct it Conversational style Popular themes were love and loyalty Could be serious or sarcastic

Robert Herrick
Anglican priest Needed money; took a ministerial job in a quiet country parish far from London Was miserable and lonely, so he turned to poetry Wrote poems to his pet pig, cat, dog, maid, neighbors, and imaginary girlfriends After many years and 1200 poems, returned to London; wasnt able to publish his poetry London had changed; took his old parish job back 10 years later To the Virgins, Make Much of Time

Andrew Marvell
Brilliant writer of lyric poetry and prose Always managed to land on his feet, no matter what political upheavals took place (good connections)

To His Coy Mistress


Coy = flirty but shy Mistress = maam, miss; sometimes sweetheart Published after his death; his maid had it published, and in the introduction she described him as her husband (secret marriage) Few believed this, never proven

The Puritans
Wanted to purify the Church of England by eliminating Roman Catholic traditions Puritans = Protestants
Protestants rejected belief in the Pope Didnt like the top-to-bottom hierarchy of the RC church; wanted bottom-to-top

Elizabeth I, James I tolerated Puritans; Charles I wanted to bring back RC traditions, so some Puritans left for America

The Puritans
Puritans who stayed in England gained political power 1649King Charles I found guilty of treason; beheaded Commonwealth (new government) headed by Oliver Cromwell
Tried to make English society conform to their strict Puritan beliefs (no holiday celebrations, no dancing, no playing chess, no public theaters)

Commonwealth was unpopular; in 1660, monarchy was restored (Charles II)

John Milton
Declared at age 21 hed be a great poet At 30 he traveled to Europe to study; religious/political upheavals called him home Gave up all other writing to create pamphlets in defense of religious and civil freedoms Neglected poetry for 20 years (held govt positions) Went blind at age 44

John Milton
In 1660 (end of Commonwealth), had time to devote to writing (was 52) Charles II had him arrested as a traitor; friends in high places saved him from hanging, but he had to pay heavy fines that left him broke Dictated Paradise Lost to his daughters

Paradise Lost
Epic poem = long narrative poem that tells, in a serious tone and stately language, heroic exploits and dramatic events Begins with an invocation of the Muse and a statement of purpose 10,565 lines long Blank verse (unrhymed iambic pentameter)

Paradise Lost
Depicts the fall of Adam and Eve Satan (as a snake) tempts Adam and Eve to commit original sin (eating the forbidden fruit from the Tree of Knowledge) Also gives background: a description of Hell at the time Satan and other rebellious angels were first driven from Heaven Paradise Regained, his next epic poem, depicts Christs temptation

John Bunyan
Grew up in poverty Only received a very basic education; left school at an early age to work Grew up to be on of Englands bestknown nonconformist preachers Arrested for preaching without a license at the age of 32

John Bunyan
Refused to renounce his faith; spent 12 years in prison Pardoned at the age of 42 Arrested again 4 years later and imprisoned again for his beliefs

The Pilgrims Progress


allegorywork in which characters and settings are symbols aimed at teaching a moral lesson Character names indicate the quality they represent Main character is named Christian; on a journey to the Celestial City Christian meets Faithful, who joins him on the journey. Together, they stop at the town of Vanity.