John Donne: The Critical Heritage - Vol. 2

By A. J. Smith; Catherine Phillips | Go to book overview

128.

Herbert John Clifford Grierson

1921

Grierson's anthology of metaphysical poems is remembered chiefly because it prompted T.S. Eliot's essay on the metaphysical poets. In fact Grierson's introductory appraisal raised just the issues which Eliot took up (Metaphysical Lyrics and Poems of the Seventeenth Century: Donne to Butler, 1921, pp. xiv-xli).

[Grierson makes no question of Donne's stature. He takes Donne for a poet of the highest order, one of the consummate masters of English writing whose strange effects are proper to great poetry when they express so vividly a temperament in which seemingly unlike impulses of our nature come together. He finds that Donne and his seventeenth-century heirs are metaphysical poets in a special way, and spends much of his introduction in pondering the distinction of their writing.

Grierson argues that the term 'metaphysical' is aptly used of the poems he presents.]

Donne is familiar with the definitions and distinctions of Mediaeval Scholasticism [and] is metaphysical not only in virtue of his scholasticism, but by his deep reflective interest in the experiences of which his poetry is the expression, the new psychological curiosity with which he writes of love and religion.

[The divine poets who followed Donne have each the inherited metaphysics of their Church. But none have for main theme a metaphysic like that of Epicurus or St Thomas.]

Donne, the most thoughtful and imaginative of them, is more aware of disintegration than of comprehensive harmony.

[He is acutely aware of the clash between the older physics and metaphysics and the new science of Copernicus, Galileo, Vesalius, Bacon.

Lucretius and Dante are metaphysical poets, Milton is a grand mythmaker. Grierson allows that Donne and his followers are not metaphysical in any such large way. But the word better describes the peculiar quality of their poetry than any other which has been proposed, such as 'fantastic'.]

-437-

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John Donne: The Critical Heritage - Vol. 2
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • General Editor's Preface v
  • Contents vii
  • Preface xi
  • Acknowledgements xii
  • Note on the Text xiv
  • Introduction xv
  • 1. - Henry Morley 1
  • 3. - William Minto 3
  • 5. - Alice King 15
  • 9. - Edmund Gosse 24
  • 11. - George Edward Bateman Saintsbury 26
  • 13. - Margaret Woods 31
  • 15. - W.F. Collier 50
  • 17. - Gamaliel Bradford 52
  • 21. - Sir Edmund Kerchever Chambers 70
  • 25. - George Edward Bateman Saintsbury 89
  • 29. - Thomas Bird Mosher 102
  • 31. - Augustus Jessopp 105
  • 32. - Anon., Academy 108
  • 35. - Henry Augustin Beers 115
  • 44. - Francis Thompson 180
  • 46. - Anon., Academy 184
  • 48. - Anon., Nation 187
  • 52. - Anon., Quarterly Review 206
  • 59. - Rudolf Richter 221
  • 69. - Charles Eliot Norton 249
  • 73. - Martin Grove Brumbaugh 254
  • 74. - Charles Crawford 255
  • 76. - Herbert John Clifford Grierson 259
  • 79. - Alfred Horatio Upham 272
  • 83. - Janet Spens 295
  • 84. - Phoebe Anne Beale Sheavyn 302
  • 85. - William Macdonald Sinclair 303
  • 89. - Herbert John Clifford Grierson 317
  • 93. - Evelyn Mary Simpson (Née Spearing) 352
  • 94. - Anon., Nation 353
  • 95. - Felix E. Schelling 356
  • 97. - Rupert Brooke 359
  • 100. - Ernest Percival Rhys 370
  • 102. - Sir Sidney Colvin 390
  • 106. - David Macleane 395
  • 107. - Ezra Pound 396
  • 118. - Logan Pearsall Smith 410
  • 126. - Louise Imogen Guiney 432
  • 128. - Herbert John Clifford Grierson 437
  • 132. - Stuart Petre Brodie Mais 451
  • 134. - Elbert Nevius Sebring Thompson 453
  • 137. - William Butler Yeats 457
  • 138. - Robert Seymour Bridges 458
  • Appendix A. 463
  • Appendix B. 467
  • Appendix C: 474
  • Index 475
  • The Critical Heritage Series 502
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