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The Major Metaphysical Poets of the Seventeenth Century John Donne, George Herbert, Richard Crashaw, and Andrew Marvell

by Edwin and Oscar Williams (eds). The Honig (Author)

The term metaphysical poets was coined by the critic Samuel Johnson to describe a loose group of 17th-century English poets whose work was characterized by the inventive use of conceits, and by a greater emphasis on the spoken rather than lyrical quality of their verse. These poets were not formally affiliated and few were highly regarded until 20th century attention established their importance. Given the lack of coherence as a movement, and the diversity of style between poets, it has been suggested that calling them Baroque poets after their era might be more useful. Once the Metaphysical style was established, however, it was occasionally adopted by other and especially younger poets to fit appropriate circumstances.