Donne's Poetry and Modern Criticism

Donne's Poetry and Modern Criticism

Donne's Poetry and Modern Criticism

Donne's Poetry and Modern Criticism

Excerpt

This essay was written in 1941. I have changed only a few words and phrases here and there and have refrained from any attempt to impose on it a strictly up-to-date appearance. The purpose of the essay and whatever value it may have are not, I believe, affected by the passage of a few years. The issues raised in it are among those which are still debated and explored, and it is likely that they win continue to be issues of critical preoccupation.

In the opening sentence of the essay I observed that the word metaphysical is a frequent term in modern criticism-- a statement I would hesitate to make about the criticism of poetry written in the nineteen-forties. But I did not hesitate to make it about the thirties and earlier, and the criticism of that period is still, I presume, modern. It would probably be more accurate to say that it is contemporary, in that the discussions by Grierson, Eliot, Ransom, Tate, Brooks and other critics have a current and vital function as critical comment on the poetry of John Donne and the subject of metaphysical poetry, as well as in the more general field of theory. These discussions have provided concepts and terms that are elements in prevalent and established attitudes. The critics have continued to pursue their studies, in some cases to develop and alter their ideas; and their earlier preoccupation with Donne and their use of metaphysical have been the point from which they have developed.

For example, for his second book of criticism Cleanth Brooks takes his tile, The Well Wrought Urn, from JohnDonne

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