Metaphysical Poetry

At the beginning of the 17th century, a new school of poetry started surfacing in reaction to the Elizabethan poetic convention. That new school of poetry is known as ‘metaphysical poetry’. Metaphysics, as the term denotes, is a science of abstract concepts. ‘Meta’ means beyond and ‘physics’ means the science of concrete things. So, metaphysics means a subject that deals with things that do not have any concrete shapes.

In other words, metaphysics deals with philosophical ideas. In dealing with abstract ideas or concepts metaphysics uses logic as it is done in philosophy.

Metaphysical poetry mainly deals with the concept of love, faith, soul, death, and God that do not have any concrete existence. This type of poetry uses arguments and logic instead of only passion and emotion. Even in using passion, the metaphysical poets use arguments. Such poetry is highly conceited and witty. Wit is the intelligent expression of rare acumen and a conceit is a comparison between two farfetched dissimilar things.

Metaphysical poets use wit and conceit frequently in their poems with the effect of surprise and stun. Not only that, but metaphysical poets also use conventional tone and they are often careless of meter and rhyme.

The major poets of the metaphysical school of poetry are John Donne, Andrew Marvel, George Herbert, Henry Vaughan, Robert Herrick, and Richard Crashaw.