Metaphysical poems by Andrew Marvell and John Dunne

Categories: Poems

In this essay I am going to compare two metaphysical poems; 'To His Coy Mistress' by Andrew Marvell and 'The Flea' by John Dunne.

Andrew Marvell and John Dunne are both called metaphysical poem writers. Andrew Marvell is known to be one of the greatest metaphysical poets, and John Dunne is known to be the father of metaphysical poetry.

Metaphysical strictly means a type of philosophy. However, the word is used for this group of poets and was originally used by John Dryden in the seventeenth century.

In this essay I am going to write what the two poems mean. The similarities of the two poems, the language, imagery and structure of the poems. I am also going to talk about the nature of the poems and the religious content in them. This will include talking about the three - fold structure of the poem, called a syllogism. It is all written in octosyllables and they the poems are written using the iambic tetrameter, this means that all lines are written with eight syllables.

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Both the poems have three stanzas.

The poem will also include the nature in which love is described; the contrast within them, the grotesque images, the wit, irony and I will also include the characteristics of the poems. For Example: simile, metaphor, conceit, hyperbole and personification, which will be in the poems and will be described in the essay.

Marvell set his poem in Hull, England. This is where he grew up. We can see the setting because he speaks of the river in Hull "I by the tide Of Humber would complain.

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The two poems 'The Flea' and 'to His Coy Mistress' are metaphysical by their genres. ' The Flea' has no references to where it is. I think Donne has purposely done this because he des not want the setting to be relevant, as it is not important. Both poems are written for adults of 14 onwards, for the reason that each poem has complicated words and structures.

I think Marvell wrote this poem to make a strong point of impressive persuasive writing but also to explain that at that period in time, to lose your virginity before marriage was not to be taken lightly; as it meant that the man you married could leave you. It also might have been printed as an awareness of what men were like but involving some humour and expressing the feelings and attitudes of that time. ' The flea' was written to show how far men would go to get what they want and is also written in a slightly mocking tone of women and their views on what is important.

Metaphysical poems stress lots of characteristics of writing for example: A Metaphor, pun and hyperbole. The title ' The Flea' is a metaphor because a flea is an insect which sucks peoples blood, and the flea sucks blood of the people in the poem, so the narrator is trying to say they have joined together in that way so he is trying to say why don't they both join in sexual contact.

In ' To His Coy Mistress' the writer is trying to say that he wants to make sexual contact, but his partner does not want to, so in the poem, he is trying to make out he is extremely desperate to make love. He ties to charm her by saying in the poem, ' My vegetable love should grow vaster than empires and more slow,' by saying this he is having an erection.

You can see why these two poems are alike, because they both want to make love, (the person in ' The Flea' and the person in ' To His Coy Mistress'). They both have the same kind of story in the poem and are written very differently.

I think the way the two poets write the poems show the passion and charisma towards their mistresses.

' To His Coy Mistress' shows some religious content. For example, ' Till the conversion of the Jews', that says that he is religious and a fundamentalist towards his religion.

In ' The Flea' some of the religious content is, ' Our marriage bed, and marriage temple is, ' I think marriage is a holy thing and he says the word ' Temple' which I think is connected because temple is a place of worship.

These two poems written in the seventeenth century have a symbolic union. The tone of voice in ' The Flea' changes dramatically from pleading to the mistress to, talking about death, ' Self murder and added be,' that shows how desperate the narrator is, and cannot hold his passion any longer. I think this is very beautifully said and is amazingly passionate.

The tone change in ' To His Coy Mistress,' goes from asking the narrators mistress for love to, charming the mistress with lovely metaphysical lines to talking about how short life can be.

I think that line is very charming to use to seduce the mistress. A quote to show this is, ' Times winged chariot hurrying near:' This is a personification on time because time is not something that can be pulled by a winged chariot.

The poems both that were written four hundred ago reflect on us still today, because of their love of how they want to seduce their mistresses. ' Had we but world enough, and time.' The narrator is talking about space, as the world and no one in that time had even been in space. This shows to me that this poem could have been written in the twentieth first century.

In ' The Flea' the way the writer reflects on us today is, ' And cloistered in these living walls of jet.' The narrator is talking about that he is trapped in a room that is the colour black, which is a common colour. It is also a form of torture in Pakistani jails because you feel like the walls are closing in on you.

In ' To His Coy Mistress' the narrator tries to charm his mistress by also talking about famous places like the River Ganges. This also is religious but I think he is also trying to say, lets make love like where walking past the beautiful river, which gets him really excited, thinking about it. So, he is thinking that she will also get excited. The imagery the poet tried to use was really magnificent and it would persuade the mistress even more.

In ' The Flea' a really good part of imagery is the way he uses the religious content using the temple. He is trying to say it is very large and beautiful, which to me is a form of charm. This shows to me that he is very willing to seduce her. We can see both of the writers' personality coming through. The poems show to me, that they are personal. Overall, I think the two poems main story line is the same but the way the poems are written, their styles are completely different because of the way the poets put forward the way to seduce the mistresses in the poems.

Updated: Apr 19, 2023
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Metaphysical poems by Andrew Marvell and John Dunne. (2020, Jun 01). Retrieved from

Metaphysical poems by Andrew Marvell and John Dunne essay
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