Comparing Philosophies Of Donne's To His Mistress And Herrick's Corrina Going A Maying

1387 words - 6 pages

Comparing Philosophies of Donne's To His Mistress and Herrick's Corrina Going A-Maying  

The seventeenth century in England produced two varying schools of poetic philosophy which included the metaphysical and the cavalier. While the metaphysical poets, comprised of the artists who followed John Donne's use of the metaphysical conceit, tended to reinforce the traditional forms of love and devotion, the cavalier poets, led by Ben Johnson, intellectualized the themes of their poetry. Both metaphysical and cavalier poets such as John Donne and Robert Herrick experimented with poetry of seduction, dramatic verse from a male lover attempting to persuade his beloved. Although both poets attempt to incite their mistresses, the methods of persuasion in Donne's "To His Mistress Going to Bed" and Herrick's "Corrina's Going A-Maying" differ in accordance with their different schools of poetic thought. Whereas Donne employs a lustful attitude, derogatory diction, and metaphysical conceits to harshly command sexual activity; Herrick utilizes a more intellectual and sensitive argument with his religious undertones, persuasive and playful diction, and personification of nature.

The variation between metaphysical and cavalier poetry can be seen through differences in Donne's and Herrick's attitudes towards their mistresses represented by varying structure, diction, imagery, and religious language. Although both "To His Mistress Going to Bed" and "Corrina's Going A-Maying" contain many imperative sentences, their structural differences reflect Donne's feeling of superiority in spite of Herrick's admiration for his mistress. Donne's simple aabb rhyme scheme indicates his feeling that his mistress either cannot understand or does not deserve a more complex pattern. Conversely, Herrick's complex metrical scheme which contains ten stresses in lines 1, 2, 7, 8, 13, and 14 and eight stresses in every other line of the stanza reflects his admiration for Corrina through the intricacy of his argument.(Blake 444) Donne's informal, denotative diction; exemplified by the use of "bed-time" and harsh commands such as: "Come", "Off", "Unpin", and "Unlace;" reduces his mistress to an immature child; in the eight lines of the second stanza, the use of "my" eight times indicates the mistress's inferiority. While Herrick also uses many imperatives throughout the poem including "get up" three times in the first stanza, his requests are softened by the soothing "s" in the alliterated "sweet slug-a-bed, and see." "Rise", "foliage", "springtime", "fresh", "leaves", "budding", and "dew-locks" transform Corrina into the atmosphere surrounding her. Herrick's reverence for nature used in combination with descriptions of Corrina indicate his simultaneous reverence for both. Additionally, connotative words such as "rise" and "spring" give the poem vitality and energy. Although both poets employ imperatives to persuade their mistresses, Herrick never demands sexual activity...

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