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Secondly, there is the device of the development of an image by rapid association of thought requiring considerable agility on the part of the reader.
Eliot begins the essay by praising Grierson’s scholarly edition of metaphysical lyrics and poems of the 17th century.
This book is an admirable piece of criticism in itself, as well as a provocation to criticism. It sets Eliot himself thinking, and he proposes to consider the significance of the label ‘Metaphysical’ which has generally been used as a term of abuse to indicate the quaint tastes of these poets, and also to examine whether the so-called ‘metaphysical’ poets constituted a school or movement in themselves, or were they merely a continuation of some older tradition.
The dominant characteristics of Donne’s poetry are also the characteristics of the great Elizabethans. Johnson’s famous definition of metaphysical poetry, in which the great doctor has tried to define this poetry by its faults. Johnson in his Life of Cowley points out that in Metaphysical poetry “the most heterogeneous ideas are yoked violence together”.
They bringing together of heterogeneous ideas and compelling them into unity by the operation of the poet’s mind is universal in poetry.