Showing posts with label Metaphysical poetry. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Metaphysical poetry. Show all posts

Friday, May 7, 2010

‘The Good Morrow’ by John Donne-a Flawless Metaphysical Poem

‘The Good Morrow’ is a typical Donnian love poem, divided into three stanzas. It’s one of those love poems in which he praises the spiritual relationship between men and women and hails it so ardently.

In the opening stanza, the poet expresses his wonder as to what he and his beloved did before they fell in love with each other. He becomes surprised remembering their past love experiences. He compares the love experiences of himself and his beloved with `weaning’, falsely sucking country pleasures’ and `snorting.’ The reference to these three physical activities indicates that they spent a life of worldly enjoyment. But now the poet using the conjunction ‘But’ makes a contrast and say’s that all these past physical activities seem to be utterly meaningless. The closing two lines of the first stanza imply that though the poet indulged himself in ‘country pleasures’, he has never been unmindful to perfect beauty of ideal spiritual love, which he always desired and has finally ‘got’ in his present beloved.

Obviously there is a shift from physical to spiritual love, sleeping to waking period, sensuous appearances to ideal reality and as if from platonic cave to the world of light in the poet and his beloved. Here the poet seems to have touched the metaphysics of Plato. In his metaphysics, Plato at first takes something concrete such as man, but soon he leaps into abstract namely the Form of man. Similarly Donne also begins with physical love and soon he turns to Platonic or metaphysical love.

The first stanza contains several Donnian elements. It opens abruptly with an explosive question. This abrupt colloquial beginning, which is so characteristic of Donne startles us and captures our attention. Another noticeable thing is that Donne swears his true relation – ‘I wonder by my troth’. Here he is unconventional. Any of his contemporary of Elizabethan poets might swear to God, but Donne has not done it. Then there are the references of physical union and the use of imageries in the following three lines. The fourth line contains a legendary conceit,a legend that tells of seven young men of Ephesus who took refuge in a cave during the persecution of Diocletian and were entombed there. They were found alive two centuries later. Here Donne compares himself and his beloved with the seven sleepers. Here he is cynical when he utters the word ‘did’. Surely the word ‘did’ includes the connotations of sexual doing – what did we ever do with the time?

The second stanza begins with hail and celebration. The unconscious past of flesh is over and a new conscious spiritual relationship begins. So the speaker cerebrates the present. “Now good morrow to our waking souls”. He also makes declaration that their souls have also learnt not to spy one another. That the married women or men involve in extra-marital affair was a dominant theme in the Elizabethan and Jacobean literature. So, fear only works in sensual lovers as motivation for watching over each other, least the other should become unfaithful to his or her mate. But the speaker and his beloved have overcome this fear and a peaceful satisfaction prevails their love. And for their faithful love they will control the temptations of other things. They love so faithfully and ardently that their love has the force to be merged into the universal love and to move out to become “an every where”.

As spiritual lovers, the poet and his beloved are indifferent to earthly pleasures and possessions – let the sea-lovers and map-lovers do what they like to do. The lovers want to be happy with their joint world though they have their individual worlds but their individual worlds are fused into a single world. Now they are the joint owners of a single world.

Here in this stanza, we find the presence of imagery from the contemporary geographical world. That is to say the contemporary geographical interest of the explorers.

The third stanza opens with endearing words from the speaker. The two lovers stand so closely that their respective faces are reflected in each others eyes. The simplicity of their heart is also reflected in their faces, which are conceived as two hemispheres of their world. But their world of love is so unearthly that its hemispheres are free from coldness and decay. They are not afraid of separation or break up of their “relation, because” ‘what ever dyes, was not mixt equality’. The ingredients of their love have been proportionately mixed and there is no ware and woof between them. They have love equally and proportionately.

Thus the poem ends with the establishment of true friendship. After an abrupt beginning, there is calmness at last. The couple has rejected the country pleasures and entered into a true inter-dependent friendship. They have renounced the mundane world in order possess an unearthly world. Experience has thought them that the true happiness can be achieved through a mutual spiritual friendship.

In the first stanza, there is the regret for past doings, in the second stanza the pleasure of discovering something in the last stanza, the prospect/hope of doing better/using the discovery. The abrupt beginning of the poem, the use of conceits form everyday life and myth in the first stanza, the geographical reference of stanza two, the use of scholastic philosophy in stanza three, and ultimately the emphasis of spiritual love continue to make it one of those poems of Donne which combine intellect and emotion. These above motioned qualities have made the poem get a certain place in honored, treasured lyrics written by John Donne.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Andrew Marvell as poet of nature

Andrew Marvell takes nature as the subject matter in many of his peoms. In his one group of poems Andrew Marvell shows him as ardent nature lover. These poems include upon Appleton House , Upon the Hill, and Grove at Bilbrough, the Garden, On a drop of dew, Bermudas The picture of little, and the Nymph Complaining for the death of her fawn. Then there are the four other poems which are more or less in the tradition of pastoral poetry though the principal in this poems is a mower, not a shepherd. All these poems show Marvell’s minute and loving observation of the scenery of nature. Nature , indeed, casts a spell upon him. He finds the appeal of Nature to be simply irresistible, and he surrenders to her charm with the utmost will ingness and joy.

He Anticipates the Romantic poets

In the poem mentioned above, he records the phenomena of nature with an astonishing accuracy. In this he ancitipates Wordsworth. Much of his Nature – imagery is richly sensous and in this respect he anticipates Keats. At the same time, he finds a spiritual significance in natural scenes and phenomena. Nature puts him into a contemplative mood, and he then gets lost in his meditations. Indeed, it can be said that Marvell was the first of English poets to feel the charm of nature with romantic intensity and at the same time with scrupulous realism. It may also be pointed that the bulk of his nature poetry was written between his twenty ninth and his thirty- first years, while he was living in country seclusion at Nun Appleton.

Upon Appleton House

As to his close observation of Nature and his precise descriptions of other scenes, Upon Appleton House, provides the finest examples. In this poem we have detailed pictures of the flower garden on Lord Fairfax’s estate, followed by equally graphic descriptions of the meadows, the river in flood and after the flood. These descriptions are followed by perfectly realistic and vivid wood into which the poet withdraws in a contempt. This part of the poem describes the doings of the nightingale, the doves, and pecker. It has been admired by every critic . Here the poet identifies himself with the birds and growing things.

The Garden and Bermudas

The finest examples of Marvell's sensuous Nature-imageries are found in The Garden and Bermudas. In The Garden, the luscious clusters of grapes are upon his mouth; the nectarine and the peach hands of their own accord; he stumbles on melons. These lines make the reader's mouth water. In Bermudas we have an equally alluring description. Here we have bright oranges shining like golden lamps in night.

Marvell's Preference for Wild Scenes of Nature

Marvell was the first to sing the beauty and glory of orchards. In them he tastes his dearest delights. He anticipates Keats by his sensuousness, and Wordsworth's optimistic and serene meditative mood.

Thus, we see that Marvell anticipated the romantic poets in his treatment of nature. In his poems, Marvell celebrates the beauty of nature.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Marvell as a love poet

Marvell's love-poems constitute an important division of lyric poetry, the other two important divisions being poems dealing with the theme of religion and those dealing with the theme nature. His love-poems include The Fair Singer, The Definition of e, To His Coy Mistress, Young Love, The Unfortunate Lover, The Picture of Little T.C., The Mower to the Glo-worms, and Damon the Mower. Then there are poems in which the theme of love occurs a subsidiary subject, poems like Upon Appleton House and The oh Complaining. Marvell’s treatment of love in his poems attracts the readers. Now let us discuss how Marvell treats love in his poems.

"To His Coy Mistress", a Masterpiece

At first in certain respects, Marvell is Petrarchan in his love-poems . The Petrarchan mode gave glowing and eloquent praises on beloved’s beauty. The Petrarchan lover often sighed for the indifference of his beloved. Now, this Petrarchan mode is found in at least three of the love-poems, namely The Fair Singer, To His Coy Mistress ,Unfortunate Lover. In the first of these poems, the lover praises the beauty of his mistress's eyes and voice in an extravagant way like a typical Petrarchan lover. In To His Coy Mistress the lover speaks of the mistress's limbs in hyperbolic terms, asserting that hundreds and thousands of years to be able to adequately. In The Unfortunate Lover, the lover has let winds and the waves sigh and shed tears.
It has been said that Marvell’s love poems lack passions. But the charge of a want of passion is not applicable for the above three poems. In these three poems the passion of the lover is as in any Elizabethan love-poem. The statement that Marvell ‘s verse is cold is certainly not true of these three poems. In the Fair Singer, the lover says that both beauties of his mistress of her eyes and the, beauty other voice have joined the fatal harmony to bring about his death, and that with her voice she captivates his mind. He then goes on to speak of the "curled trammels of her hair" in which his I heart got entangled, and the subtle art with which she can-weave fetters him of the very air he breathes. If a lover can thus speak about his feelings, we cannot say that he is a cold kind of lover. In poem To His Coy Mistress, the passion is equally ardent. While lover adopts a witty and somewhat sarcastic manner of speaking first two stanzas, he becomes truly ardent and, fervid in his passion in last stanza. In this final stanza he reaches the zenith of his passion when he suggests that he and she should roll their strength and all their sweetness up into one ball and should their pleasures with rough strife through the iron gates of life. In The Unfortunate Lover also the passion is intense, almost red-hot. Inver is here hit by "all the winged artillery of Cupid" and, like Idi finds himself between the "flames and the waves".

The Argumentative Quality of love poems

Another feature of Marvell’s love poems is that they are often based on arguments. Marvell’s most famous argumentative love poem is To His Coy Mistress. There is another poem namely "Young Love" in which the argumentative quality paramount and the passion of love is therefore superseded by the logic which dominates the poem. This poem has an absolutely unconventional theme. Its title is Young Love, and here a grown up man has conceived a passion for a little girl (of about thirteen fourteen). The lover proceeds to persuade the young, immature to love him in return, and he gives all kinds of argument convince her. He would like her to make up her mind quickly not to wait till she attains the age of fifteen. There is a possibility that fate might afterwards thwart them in their desire to love each other; now is therefore the time and the opportunity for them crown each other with their loves. The whole poem is one extended argument, and the originality of the poem lies in the manner the argument is developed. The response of the girl is not a part of the poem, but we can imagine that she could not have resisted such a persuasive and importunate lover.

Love, a Subsidiary Theme in Two of the Poems

Disappointment in love is briefly introduced in the poem Nymph Complaining, the main subject of which is the death of pet fawn. However, the theme of love there cannot be ignored. The wrong which the Nymph suffered at the hands of her false lover Sylvio was as grave as the one she has now suffered at the hands of the wanton troopers who have killed her pet fawn. The Nymph is certainly not a cold-hearted girl. She loved Sylvio intensely, and her suffering when he deserted her was intense also. Equally strong must have been the love of the first Fairfax for Miss Thwait whom he was able ultimately to win as his bride in spite of the opposition of the nuns and her own excessive modesty, as related in the poem, on Appleton House. In these two poems, however, the passion of love is not much dwelt upon; it is merely indicated, and we have ourselves to imagine its love in the Pastoral Poems
Thus, we see that as a love poet Marvell is sometimes Petrarchan, sometimes passionate and sometimes he is very argumentative. But the role of intellectual arguments of his poems also cannot be ignored. The intellectual arguments often become dominant and love is pushed into background.