Meta physical Poetry

Meta physical Poetry


Samuel Johnson, a prominent writer in the 18th century, coined the phrase "metaphysical poetry" to describe a distinct and fascinating kind of poetry. It's a literary mode known for its rich metaphorical imagery and philosophical and spiritual concerns. We'll go on an adventure through the history, major poets, distinguishing characteristics, and lasting impact of metaphysical poetry in this blog.

What is Metaphysical Poetry?

Metaphysical poetry is a literary subgenre that gained popularity in the 17th century and is known for its unique style and subject matter. It was named after a group of English writers and metaphysical poets, who all had similar styles and philosophies. It stands out for the sophisticated analogies, profound thought, contradictory language, investigation of love and spirituality, humour, and original combination of components that characterise it. It has had a lasting impact on English literature and is now considered a classic.

Origins of Metaphysical Poetry

It was in the tumultuous 17th century, a time of political upheaval, religious strife, and fast social change when the roots of metaphysical poetry were first planted. Poets arose against this background to address the intricacies and ambiguities of life through their writing.

First used by Samuel Johnson in his "Lives of the Poets" series, the word "metaphysical" was coined to describe these writers. It's a nod to the poets' fondness for exploring the abstract and metaphysical, and their predilection for using complex metaphors and conceits to convey their ideas.

Key Metaphysical Poets

John Donne: Donne's work is often cited as an example of the genre of metaphysical poetry, and he is also called "the quintessential metaphysical poet." He often writes about love, death, and the afterlife in his poetry. His poems "The Flea" and "A Valediction: Forbidding Mourning" both showcase his unique writing style.

George Herbert: Herbert is known for his spiritual and reflective writings. His collection "The Temple" is a classic because it displays his undying faith in God and his curiosity in the connection between the human soul and the divine.

Andrew Marvell: Author of both lyrical and intellectual poetry, Marvell is well admired for his work. The combination of love and the philosophical in his poem "To His Coy Mistress" makes it an enduring classic.

Features of Metaphysical Poetry

• Metaphysical poets were experts in conceits, which are "over-the-top" analogies that unexpectedly connect seemingly unrelated concepts.

• Metaphysical poetry is often praised for the depth of its thought. Poets like Donne explored difficult philosophical, scientific, and theological concepts, prompting readers to reflect on the complexity of the human experience.

• Another distinguishing feature of metaphysical poetry is the use of paradox. Poets have used seemingly incongruous notions to encourage readers to engage in deep thinking and reflection.

• Many metaphysical poems deal with questions of spirituality and romantic love at the same time.

• These poets typically used love poetry as a means of bridging the gap between the human experience and the transcendent.

Legacy of Metaphysical Poetry

The legacy of metaphysical poetry in English literature is permanent, and it continues to influence contemporary poets and authors. The metaphysical poets laid the path for contemporary poetry with their concentration on deep thought and subject.


The intriguing genre of metaphysical poetry flourished throughout times of great upheaval in history. Its enduring popularity as a source of inspiration for authors and readers may be traced back to its special combination of serious thought, intricate metaphor, and probing of spiritual issues. Exploring the writings of John Donne, George Herbert, and Andrew Marvell not only enlightens us about their historical age but also leads us to universal truths about the human condition. These metaphysical poets remind us that poetry is an effective tool for probing the innermost depths of the human psyche by inviting us to go on an introspective and reflective journey.

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Geetika Khatri

Assistant professor School of languages, Literature & Society

Jaipur National University, Jaipur, India