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But the essay is much more than a mere review. It is a critical document of much value and significance. It is an important landmark in the history of English literary criticism, it has brought about a revaluation and reassessment of Donne and other Metaphysical poets, and has caused a revival of interest in these poets who had been neglected for a considerable time.
It is in this essay that Eliot has used, for the first time, the phrases Dissociation of Sensibility and Unification of Sensibility, phrases which have acquired worldwide currency and which, ever since, have had a far reaching impact on literary criticism.
This book is an admirable piece of criticism in itself, as well as a provocation to criticism. It is a great irritant to thought. Difficulties in the Way Eliot is quite conscious of the difficulties of the task he has undertaken.
Secondly, it is difficult to decide which poets practised it and which did not, and which of their verses have such characteristics. In the beginning of the 17th century, there are noticeable three different schools of poetry: Secondly, there is Ben Jonson and his, courtly school, of poetry, a kind of poetry which expired in the next century in the verses of Prior.
Thirdly, there is the religious poetry of Herbert, Vaughan and Crashaw. It is difficult to find characteristics which are common to all those poets, and which are dominant enough to mark out these poets as constituting a separate, distinct group.
First, there is the elaboration of a simile to the farthest possible extent to be met with frequently in the poetry of Donne and Cowley. Secondly, there is the device of the development of an image by rapid association of thought requiring considerable agility on the part of the reader. Thirdly, on other occasions Donne produces his effects by sudden contrasts.
But such telescoping of images and contrast of associations are not a characteristic of the poetry of Donne alone. This suggests that Donne, Cowley and others belong to the Elizabethan tradition and not to any new school.
Countless instances of such fusion of opposite and dissimilar concepts can be cited at random from all poets.
Such unity is present even in the poetry of Johnson himself. The force of Dr. They could unite them or fuse them into a single whole.
But this is not a fact. A number of poets of this school have eminently succeeded in uniting heterogeneous ideas. Eliot quotes from Herbert Cowley, Bishop King and other poets in support of his contention. Therefore, he concludes that Metaphysical poetry cannot be differentiated from other poetry by Dr.
The fault which the learned doctor points out is not there, and the unity of heterogeneous ideas is common to all poetry. The Special Virtue of the Metaphysicals As a matter of fact, it is futile to try to define metaphysical poetry by its faults.
Even such a shrewd and sensitive critic as Dr. Johnson failed to do so. Eliot, therefore, purposes to use the opposite method, the positive approach, and point out the characteristic virtue of this school of poetry. But he has failed to see that they could also unite into new wholes the concepts they had analysed.
Eliot would show that their special virtue was the fusion of heterogeneous material into a new unity after its dissociation. In other words, he would show that metaphysical poetry is distinguished from other poetry by unification of sensibility, and that subsequently, dissociation of sensibility, overtook English poetry, and this was unfortunate.
Unification of Sensibility The great Elizabethans and early Jacobians had a developed unified sensibility which is expressed in their poetry.
He means much more than that. The Elizabethans had such a sensibility.T. S. Eliot - Poet - Born in Missouri on September 26, , T.
Eliot is the author of The Waste Land, As a poet, he transmuted his affinity for the English metaphysical poets of the seventeenth century (most notably John Donne) and the nineteenth century French symbolist poets. ‘The Metaphysical Poets’ It is to be observed that the language of these poets is as a rule simple and pure; in the verse of George Herbert this simplicity is carried as far as it can go – a simplicity emulated without success by numerous modern poets.
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John Donne as a metaphysical poet John Donne was the most outstanding of the English Metaphysical Poets and a churchman famous for his spellbinding sermons.
His poetry is noted for its ingenious fusion of wit and seriousness and represents a shift from classical models toward a more personal style.
Eliot’s influential essay “The Metaphysical Poets” (), a review of Herbert J.C. Grierson’s anthology Metaphysical Lyrics & Poems of the Seventeenth Century. In this essay Eliot argued that the works of these men embody a fusion of thought and feeling that later poets were unable to achieve because.
What is his charge against Milton and Dryden in the essay on ‘The Metaphysical Poets’? Eliot’s theory of the ‘dissociation of sensibility’ may be said to be an attempt to find some kind of historical explanation to the dissolution of the tradition of unified sensibility which found its perfection in the writings of Dante and.