THAT CLIMACTERIC in human history which was the seventeenth century returns in our time with a greater and more general vehemence. Society and the individual live in the furious and common element of controversy. Like Donne, the indicative twentieth-century poet is at once highly self-conscious and objective. Yeats, D. H. Lawrence, Eliot, Auden, and Crane exhibit the adjacent contrasts of the material and the spiritual, the primitive and the subtle. The headlong temper of modern development has bred contradictions exacerbating those in the seventeenth century when "the uncomfortable antithesis of matter and mind in the Cartesian scheme seems to have made inevitable both the materialist and the idealist solutions."1England then grappled with philosophies, religions, revolutions, and restorations. Lately political and economic wars subsume religious considerations: republican Spain versus Catholicism, Nazi neopaganism versus Christianity, and Russian materialistic atheism.
There are critics of both periods who believe that the poets have been too little concerned with the movements of contemporaneous culture. It is true that the metaphysicals then and now have been highly subjective. Yet that very subjectivity has usually been caused by the pressure of events. The metaphysical penchant in many of these poets argues that they were fiercely aware of the restlessness of their age. The poets, indeed, were Cassandras of imminent clashes in thought, science, and public affairs. Their apprehension of impending events is in the very mood of their writing.
The Royalist poets rallied tangibly to their cause, witness Love