Metaphysical Poetry

Metaphysical Poetry
The Flea
By John Donne
Metaphysical Poetry- Definition(1)
By itself, metaphysical means dealing with the
relationship between spirit to matter or the ultimate
nature of reality. The Metaphysical poets are
obviously not the only poets to deal with this subject
matter, so there are a number of other qualities
involved as well:
Use of ordinary speech mixed with puns,
paradoxes and conceits (a paradoxical metaphor
causing a shock to the reader by the strangeness of
the objects compared; some examples: lovers and a
compass, the soul and timber, the body and mind)
Metaphysical Poetry- Definition (2)
The exaltation of wit, which in the 17th century meant a
nimbleness of thought; a sense of fancy (imagination of a
fantastic or whimsical nature); and originality in figures of speech
Abstruse terminology often drawn from science or law
Often poems are presented in the form of an argument
In love poetry, the metaphysical poets often draw on ideas from
Renaissance Neo-Platonism to show the relationship between
the soul and body and the union of lovers' souls
They also try to show a psychological realism when describing
the tensions of love.
Metaphysical Poetry – Platonic Love(1)
During the Renaissance, Plato got mingled with Christian and
Eastern thought. Through this mingling we get Platonic love
(which is a lot more than you probably think it means). For Plato,
beauty proceeds in a series of steps from the love of one
beautiful body to that of two, to the love of physical beauty in
general, and ultimately to the love of that beauty "not in the
likeness of a face or hands or in the forms of speech or
knowledge or animal or particular thing in time or place, but
beauty absolute, separate, simple, everlasting--the source and
cause of all that perishing beauty of all other things."
When this scheme is Christianized by equating this ultimate
beauty with the Divine Beauty of God, the Renaissance Platonic
lover can move in stages through the desire for his mistress,
whose beauty he recognizes as an emanation of God's, to the
worship of the Divine itself.
Metaphysical Poetry- Platonic Love(2)
This complex doctrine of love which embraces
sexuality (the mystical union of souls, cf. Donne's
"The Canonization") but which is directed to an ideal
end (discussed in Plato's Symposium) is particularly
evident in Donne. (But we see it in poets from
Sidney to Lawrence).
Platonic love has also come to mean a love
between individuals which transcends sexual desire
and attains spiritual heights (for examples, see
some of the courtly romances like Tennyson's Idylls
of the King), as well as homosexual love (see
Forster's Maurice), derived from the praise of
homosexual love in The Symposium.
The Flea
By John Donne
John Donne- Biography
->born in Bread Street in 1572 to a prosperous Roman
Catholic family
->1593 his brother, Henry died of a fever in prison after
arrested for giving sanctuary to a proscribed catholic
priest. Donne began to have doubts in his faith.
-> 1601 secretly married Lady Egerton’s niece,
seventeen-year-old Anne More, daughter of Sir
George More
->1611 Donne was invited and joined Sir Robert Drury
to the continental trip. It was then Donne composed
several of his most prominent poems. “A Valediction:
Forbidden Mouring”
John Donne- Biography (2)
->1617 Donne’s wife died.
Within 16 years, she
gave him 12 children.
->1631 Donne died of
serious illness.
John Donne- Writing Style
Donne’s work were famous for the themes if his
faith in God and women. Though not writing with
conventional glamorous style of verse like the
Petrachan style, Donne successfully and beautifully
connect the time and space in his poems with
extraordinary images. Donne’s usage of diction and
language in composing his work is considered
revolutionary of his time. His style is regarded as
“metaphysical” in the modern study of poem.
The Flea- Main Idea
“The Flea” is a poem about class distinction,
marriage and struggle between religion
conception and physical needs.
Please Welcome Joey! To give reading to this
Poem (Applause!)
Explanation and AnalysisMarriage and Class Distinction
this is a poem about an unblessed marriage
class distinction, the two “blood” mixed together (stanza one,
used the flea as a metaphor of connection of their (fragile)
marriage (stanza two, line 3~4)
deeply related to religious concepts. Ex. When he talks about his
wife, that if she kills the flea, that she would be commit three
crimes of marriage.
flea as the metaphor of a fragile marriage. Because it would be
easily destroyed.
THE change of mind: after his wife squeezed the flea, he thinks
that there is no loss for her to marry him (stanza 3.)
Explanation and AnalysisReligion and Sex
The poem that reflects
the change of era- the
conservative, religious
value v.s. the new
values that comes with
He prefers the blood
mingled together as a
connection rather than
sexual intercourse,
which he thinks is a sin.
元 管道昇
用 水 調 和 ; 再 捻 一 個 你 , 再 塑 一 個我 。
你儂我儂- Explanation and Analysis(1)
This poem was written by a woman named管道昇 in
元 Dynasty. She wrote this poem in order to stop her
husband 趙夢頻 from marrying a concubine.
The first two sentences, the writer describes how
deep they love each other and what a great passion
between them. 儂 is a pronoun. It represent “You” or
“I “, thus, 你 儂 我 儂 means “I am you and you are
me. We love each other very much so that we do
not have to distinguish who we are, because we are
together, our hearts and minds unitize together.
你儂我儂- Explanation and Analysis(2)
She compares their passionate love to fire. She
uses fire to create a vivid image. Then, the writer
uses soil to give a more vivid image to confirm their
everlasting love. From the third sentence, use soil to
knead a you and knead an I. Then, break us up
together and mix up with water. Re kneads a you
and re kneads an I. In this way, I have you and you
could have me. In the last sentence, the writer
confirms their permanent love that no matter live or
die, they will be together for all eternity.
你儂我儂- The Song
Please enjoy listening to this song:
你儂我儂 sung by 包娜娜
Similarities – The Flea&你儂我儂
Both two poems focused on the mingling:
The flea---flea “It sucked me first, and now
sucks thee, And in this flea our two bloods
mingled be;”
你儂我儂---the soil “把一塊泥,捻一個你,塑
Comparison- Structure
The Flea
The rhyme scheme in each
stanza is similarly regular, in
couplets, with the final line
rhyming with the final couplet:
Three stanzas in total which
are also three ideas in
The stress pattern in each of
the nine-line stanzas is
This poem alternates
metrically between lines in
iambic tetrameter and lines in
iambic pentameter.
The whole poem is rhyming
withㄛ rhyme.
The whole poem is full of
Comparison- Techniques
The Flea
In the Flea, author divided
his idea into three parts
which are also the
processes of the whole
poem. The flea that sucked--the death of the flea---the
turning thought about the
There is only one stanza.
No obvious processes but
strong passion. There
seems to be no conflicts in
the poem. The idea of never
changing until death is what
differs from The Flea. The
passion of mingling is much
stronger than The Flea.
Works Cited
Metaphysical Poetry
John Donne
Thank You for Your
Tiffany Lee –intro
Irene –structure
Tiffany Wei