Metaphysical Poets

(2196 words)

Literary/ Cultural Context Essay

It seems that the Scottish writer William Drummond in around 1630 was one of the first to apply the term “metaphysical” to particular poets, but the critic often associated with the seventeenth-century application of the term is John Dryden. Writing at the end of the seventeenth century, Dryden uses the term “metaphysics” to identify the abstruse “speculations of philosophy” that he thought characterised the poetry of John Donne (John Dryden,Essays, vol. 2, ed. W. P. Ker, New York, Russell and Russell, 1961: 19). The use of the term was subsequently expanded by Samuel Johnson in the eighteenth century to name a “school” of poets who nowadays usually include George Herbert (1593-1633), Richard Crashaw (ca. 1613-1649), …

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Mousley, Andrew. "Metaphysical Poets". The Literary Encyclopedia. First published 18 July 2002
[, accessed 28 September 2016.]