POETRY OF TWO ERA



DONNE AND WORDSWORTH; SEMBLANCE AND DISSONANCE
The glories of the Elizabethan era experienced probity with the emergence of metaphysical poetry. These poems queried order and refuted the dogmatic template of the Italian literary model. This stance however became a recurring decimal when the Romantics embraced a unique form and content in their poetry altogether, using language that is common to men and exploring themes that draw from natural sources. The belief that poetry is a gift of Nature is associated with the Romantic poets, while Metaphysical poetry highlights “nice speculation of philosophy” (John Dryden).
The consciousness of these new experiences came to the fore when William Wordsworth in “Lyrical Ballads” (1798) made a resounding statement for the Romantics, while it was Samuel Johnson who coined the term Metaphysical in his 18th century book “Life of Cowley”, creating attention to a new argument emanating within literary scholarship.
  In the preface to Wordsworth “Lyrical Ballads”, these words take us on a journey of understanding.
      “The poet “a man speaking to men” in “the language of men,” records his own sensations, observations, reflections, and conclusions; creating a pleasurable imaginative response that is inseparable from the highest kind of Knowledge”.
There is a sense of commonality and communality in the above excerpt, being the essential consciousness of a Romantic poet. It is such that, the creative process of a poet does not only serve in eliciting a response that gladdens, but also guarantees the highest kind of knowledgeable experience occasioned by ubiquity of reference that could be related to with ease.
The statement above seems a pathway established for the poets whose identities and association dwell essentially on nature, but the Metaphysical poets are not left in limbo because very definite peculiarities have been identified and expressed in the under listed.   
Samuel Johnson explains that the metaphysical poets were fond of using obscure and specialized learning in their poems. Going further he observed “a combination of dissimilar images, most heterogeneous things”. By implication, there is a strange resemblance in things that are apparently unlike by their forceful comparisons.
Similarly, John Dryden in 1693 accused John Donne when he dismissed him as: “Someone who affects the Metaphysics, not only in his satires, but in his amorous verses, where only nature should reign”.
The deduction from here appears double edged, the first being the impact of a poet whose hallmarks are “after the physical” and the other, in announcing a new trend that has just arrived the scene.
 It is ideal to note, that while both poets churned out works for people to consume, William Wordsworth appreciates the everyday privileges of natural phenomena but John Donne has preferences for a sojourn within the complexities imagery.  Imagery is however not the privilege of Metaphysical poets alone, although complexities abound in their poems. Romantic poets also appreciate the import of imagery, albeit in simple forms.
Imagery can be said to be a unifying factor deployed differently.
Wordsworth makes it known in Preface to “Lyrical Ballads” this way:
“The principal object, then, proposed in these poems was to choose incidents and situations from common life... in a selection of language really used by men... to throw over them a certain colouring of imagination...”
The words, Common life and Language used by men combines Colouring of imagination to guarantee what appeals to the mind in relatable and simple way. There are however several “markers” which set these poets differently and in these characteristics are details of what literary enthusiasts flip pages of their works for.
John Donne’s style is characterized by abrupt openings and various paradoxes, ironies and dislocations. His tense syntax and tough eloquence were both a reaction against the smoothness of Elizabethan poetry and an adaptation into European mannerist techniques.  Donne was also notable for his elegies in which he employed unconventional metaphors such as “a flea biting two lovers compared to sex
 In Elegy XIX, “To His Mistress going to Bid”, he poetically undressed his mistress and compared the act of fondling to the exploration of America.
In respect of style, Wordsworth repudiates what I have termed “The Unwanted Other”. He says:
“The reader will find that personifications of abstract ideas rarely occur in these volumes and are utterly rejected... my purpose was to imitate and as far as possible to adopt the language of men”
The signs are very clear here about the non-admittance of anything that correlates with abstraction and remote representations in style. His style must appeal to proletariats. His affection is masses oriented, thus his avowal.  He states further in Preface to “Lyrical Ballads” thus:
“Such personifications do not make any natural or regular part of that language. They are, indeed a figure of speech occasionally prompted by passion, and i have made use of them as such, but have endeavoured utterly to reject them as a mechanical device of style”.
It is with undoubted definiteness that Wordsworth restates what constitutes the mechanics of style in his poetry. The impact of imagery is arrived at through the door of personified abstracts, but this is what the Romantic poet under consideration disallows with every sense of poetic consciousness.
The use of metaphysical conceit also characterizes the poetry of John Donne. By Metaphysical conceit is meant intellectual ingenuity and fanciful notions expressed through elaborate analogies. It is needful to state here, that these analogies always point to striking parallels between two seemingly dissimilar things. “The Canonization” (1633) is Donne’s poem that typifies this elaborately analyzed notions in which paradoxes are replete.

Unlike Donne, Wordsworth fancies sensible restrain over needless refrain.
He says, still from Preface to “Lyrical Ballads”
“I have also thought it expedient to restrict myself still further, having abstained from the use of many expressions, in themselves proper and beautiful, but which have been foolishly repeated by bad poets till such feelings of disgust are connected with them...”
Analyzing for contrast, one discovers Wordsworth’s tilt towards apt condensation over Donne’s tactful wordiness.
John Donne’s thematic thrusts are also noteworthy. His idea of true religion which he spent time considering and theorizing about resulted in the award of honorary doctorate in divinity from Cambridge (1615); the  secular poems as well as erotic and love poems form part of what he dwelt on in his poems
Wordsworth on the other hand places value on ordinary people and their concerns. He says:
“Humble and rustic life was generally chosen, because, in that condition, the essential passions of the heart find a better soil in which they can attain their maturity, are less under restraint, and speak a plainer and more emphatic language...”
There is no gainsaying that, both poets have their works cut out for them and did square up to the significant features of their themes.  Probity and strong representations holds sway for the former, whereas the latter projects the unadulterated qualities of the natural order.
On the home stretch, we can state categorically that John Donne’s work highlighted analytical, intellectual, psychological disillusioning that exude boldness and absorption in thoughts of death, extending to physical love and religious devotion. Evident also are the use of religious images and the application of human love language to religious experiences.
William Wordsworth revels in poetry as a gift of human nature, love of country life, rural scenery, and ascendancy of imagination, value of the individual human being, a revitalized interest in medieval subjects as well as settings; culminating in man as an individual who is different and equally associates in the main with communal commonalities. 
 Importantly, both poets defied preceding traditions occupied by Elizabethans during the Renaissance (1500-1660) before Metaphysical poets who wrote during the Jacobean age (1603-1605) and the Neo-Classical (1660-1798) coming before the Romantic period (1798-1870).



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