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Word Count: 393
John Donne whose poetic reputation languished before he was rediscovered in the early part of the twentieth century is remembered today as the leading exponent of a style of verse known as metaphysical poetry which flourished in the late sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries Other great metaphysical poets include Andrew Marvell Robert Herrick and George Herbert Metaphysical poetry typically employs unusual verse forms complex figures of speech applied to elaborate and surprising metaphorical conceits and learned themes discussed according to eccentric and unexpected chains of reasoning Donnes poetry exhibits each of these characteristics His jarring unusual meters his proclivity for abstract puns and double entendres his often bizarre metaphors in one poem he compares love to a carnivorous fish in another he pleads with God to make him pure by raping him and his process of oblique reasoning are all characteristic traits of the metaphysicals unified in Donne as in no other poet Donne is valuable not simply as a representative writer but also as a highly unique one He was a man of contradictions As a minister in the Anglican Church Donne possessed a deep spirituality that informed his writing throughout his life but as a man Donne possessed a carnal lust for life sensation and experience He is both a great religious poet and a great erotic poet and perhaps no other writer with the possible exception of Herbert strove as hard to unify and express such incongruous mutually discordant passions In his best poems Donne mixes the discourses of the physical and the spiritual over the course of his career Donne gave sublime expression to both realms His conflicting proclivities often cause Donne to contradict himself For example in one poem he writes Death be not proud though some have called thee Mighty and dreadful for thou art not so Yet in another he writes Death I recant and say unsaid by me Whateer hath slipped
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