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Seven Metaphysical PoetsA Structural Study of the Unchanging Self$
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Robert Ellrodt

Print publication date: 2000

Print ISBN-13: 9780198117384

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198117384.001.0001

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New Perceptions of Time and Space?

New Perceptions of Time and Space?

(p.320) Chapter 17 New Perceptions of Time and Space?
Seven Metaphysical Poets

Robert Ellrodt

Oxford University Press

The 17th century was a period of transition traversed by crosscurrents, and the originality of the English metaphysical poets proceeded from the very diversity of their modes of thought. Alongside new modes of apprehension, older modes of perception persisted. Yet a historical continuity underlies the divergences: the intuition of the instant was related to a progression in subjectivity and inwardness. John Donne's passionate attention directed to the present moment as inwardly apprehended seems to imply a similar inner experience of time. This perception of the present is modulated in the poetry of George Herbert through an Augustinian ‘distension’ of the soul, allowing his attention to embrace a larger space of time. When the imagination of Henry Vaughan constantly moves in the universe of retrospection, memory becomes an effort at reviviscence. This chapter also explores the perceptions of time and space of Andrew Marvell, Edward Herbert, Thomas Traherne, and Richard Crashaw.

Keywords:   Andrew Marvell, Edward Herbert, Thomas Traherne, Richard Crashaw, John Donne, George Herbert, Henry Vaughan, space, time, metaphysical poets

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