Eliot The Metaphysical Poets Essay

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This essay was originally a review in the London Times Literary Supplement (October 20, 1921) of the book Metaphysical Lyrics and Poems of the Seventeenth Century.

In this essay, Eliot discusses three questions: To what extent did the so-called metaphysical form a school or a movement?

In their poetry, he remarks: The force of this accusation lies in the fact that often the ideas are yoked but not united.

But this is not blameworthy in itself, as it has been practised by a number of poets and even by Johnson himself.

So it is to be maintained that metaphysical poetry is the elaboration of far-fetched images and communicated association of poets mental processes.

Johnson employed the term metaphysical poets, apparently having Donne, Cleveland and Cowley chiefly in mind.

A though to Donne was an experience; it modified his sensibility.

When a poets mind is perfectly equipped for its work, it is constantly merging disparate experience; the ordinary mans experience is chaotic, irregular fragmentary.

The poetry of Herbert, Vaughan, Crashaw, Cowley and Donne is usually called metaphysical.

However, it is difficult to find any precise use of metaphor, simile or other conceit, which is common to all these poets.


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