The seventeenth-century metaphysical poets broke apart from the Elizabethan poets. In a poem like "The Collar," Herbert demonstrates his metaphysical abilities by employing a jagged meter in lines that fluctuate in length drastically, indicating the speaker's disturbed state of mind. While you winked and pretended not to see. Away! away! I cried, And made my eye a door Through which the fume of my disdain Might pass unheeded till thy heart Was full as it is now!
Herbert uses metaphysics to create emotion in his readers. By describing how eyes can be doors through which smoke passes unnoticed until it fills the whole body with anger, he is able to make his audience feel like they are standing in front of a fire when really they are just reading poetry on a screen. This shows that although the seventeenth century was focused on science, mathematics, and engineering, they also valued poetry and used it often in society documents, letters, and even religious texts.
Metaphysical poetry is sometimes distinguished by an extensive metaphor known as a "conceit." Herbert employs the metaphor of the pulley in this poem to show the need of balance in man's connection with God. When discussing the Creation of Man (humanity), God provides man with power, beauty, intellect, dignity, and pleasure while withholding the rest. This implies that if man seeks only one of these gifts, he will be unhappy.
Herbert uses the example of a carpenter's tool belt to make his point. A pulley is a device used to transmit power or force using ropes or cables. Just as a carpenter needs many tools to do his job efficiently, so too does man need various virtues to live a balanced life. Herbert calls these tools "charms" because they are not necessary for survival but rather they give the person who possesses them an advantage over others. For example, courage is useful for escaping danger, but it is also dangerous because it can lead to arrogance. So, courage is a virtue that should be used carefully.
The charmers include wisdom, which gives us knowledge about how to live our lives; justice, which causes us to behave morally; temperance, which prevents us from doing things that will harm ourselves or others; and fortitude, which inspires people to keep fighting against adversity.
If humanity is treated as an asset that can be invested in like money, then it makes sense that some people would try to find ways to gain wealth at other people's expense.
The critic Samuel Johnson used the term "metaphysical poets" to designate a loose group of 17th-century English poets whose work was distinguished by the imaginative use of conceits and a stronger focus on the spoken rather than lyrical nature of their poems. The metaphysical poets included John Donne, George Herbert, Richard Harvey, and Thomas Traheron.
Their poetry often displayed a profound awareness of religious experience, and many of them were clergymen. But they did not write hymns, nor did they attempt to imitate any particular style of music when they sang their poems themselves. They simply made what they wanted to say into poetic language with as much beauty as possible.
Some critics believe that Donne, Herbert, and Traheron should be included in this category because they all wrote religious poems, but that is not enough to make them metaphysical poets. As far as I know, no one has ever been given that title who did not also write beautiful poems full of wisdom and insight about life.
Donne, Herbert, and Traheron are important for another reason: they represent the beginning of modernism in England. Before them, people believed that poetry was something that could only describe real things like places or events. Donne, Herbert, and Traheron showed how poetry could also be about ideas - spiritual ideas but also scientific ideas - and how it could explore the human mind and its workings.
The name "Metaphysical Poets" was used by the poet and critic Samuel Johnson to designate a loose group of 17th century English lyric poets whose work was distinguished by the imaginative use of conceits and speculation on issues such as love or religion. Johnson called these poems "wild, extravagant, and meaningless". The term "metaphysical" was later applied to other writers who pursued abstract ideas rather than social commentary. George Berkeley is often cited as an example of a metaphysical writer.
George Berkeley (1685-1753) was a British philosopher who founded modern idealism. He developed a theory known as "immaterialism" that eliminated matter altogether from reality. For Berkeley, material objects such as tables and chairs exist only as perceptions in human minds. Although this view differs from traditional realism which considers material objects to be real independent of humans, for Berkeley they are merely ideas in our brains. He also believed that physical laws can't apply to objects that don't exist independently from their observers. For example, he argued that since electricity is able to flow through air because it doesn't encounter any physical obstacles, then it must be able to flow through empty space too. This idea led him to conclude that empty space isn't really empty but instead it's full of tiny particles that we call electric charges.
A Metaphysical poet is any of the 17th-century English poets who are drawn to the personal and intellectual depth and focus demonstrated in John Donne's poetry, the chief of the Metaphysicals. Donne's work pre-dating Herbert's by about 15 years brought him fame but also outrage from traditionalists who viewed his spiritual writing as heretical. Donne was imprisoned for a time but released after agreeing to refrain from further theological debate.
Herbert's reputation has endured more strongly than Donne's, partly because there are fewer of his poems but also because they are seen as less controversial, reflecting the spirit of an age when religious strife had settled down somewhat. However, Herbert did write one poem that caused a scandal at the time - The Temple. This poem was perceived as attacking the Church of England and Herbert was forced into exile in France where he died in 1623. His body was returned to Britain where it lies in Westminster Abbey.
So, Herbert's poetic career was relatively short but his influence remains strong today. He is regarded as one of the founders of Anglicanism because of his emphasis on prayer and religion bringing peace rather than violence as in the case of Donne. Also, Herbert popularized the use of poetry during services held in church courts which led to him being called the "Church Poet".