The metaphysical poets John Donne and Andrew Marvell were two of the most known and most influential people with regards to metaphysical poetry. Although for the case of Marvell, it was only until after he died when his poems were published. Thus, it is only right that this discussion on metaphysical poetry be an analysis and literary assessment of their works. I have acquired two poems to discuss in this paper of comparison which are John Donne’s “The Flea” and Marvell’s “To His Coy Mistress” and see what defines these works as metaphysical and what separates each of them from other poems of the same kind. Through these works we hope to see each author’s personal style of writing with the assumption of generalization.
The two poems I have mentioned are both about the art of seduction. The manner in which both authors orchestrate this seduction differ in such a way that Marvell goes through a process of wooing and reasoning. He explores the limitations of life and uses it as a means to get the lady to sleep with him. In contrast to this, John Donne is rather straight to the point where it is like he tells her to “just sleep with me” without beating around the bush. However, he does so in a very descriptive manner using words (like suck, blood, sacrilege, etc.) that make the reader experience the rawness of his passion and emotion towards the woman. It’s like we can consider Marvell’s work to be a novel where there is tension built-up, then a climax and onto a conclusion. Donne’s is like that one page in the book where all the excitement is, one you’d have to read over and over again to relive the experience.
Both poems exemplify Donne and Marvell’s style of metaphysical poetry through their uses of metaphors, paradoxes, and conceit. Though both poems make use of the theme of seduction, entities you would not have related to sex consciously were utilized in the poems. This is called a more obscure metaphor called conceit and both authors successfully pull it off.
Donne, John. The Flea. n.d. 21 February 2013
Marvell, Andrew. To His Coy Mistress. n.d. 21 February 2013