The Metaphysical Tradition
One of the characteristics of the later Metaphysical tradition is the way in which it merges into the sublime. Cowley and Norris are obvious examples.1 Long before Watts, these two poets had been drawn to the works of Casimire, not for their Metaphysical qualities but for their sublimity.2 From the poems of Norris one would deduce that the Metaphysical tradition was moribund; and in the poems of Watts, a generation later, one would not expect to find more than pale traces of its demise. Readers of Cowley and Cleveland have perhaps too readily assumed that the Metaphysical tradition died out as a result of its own excesses and decadence. The poetry of Edward Taylor, however, suggests that the tradition could assimilate a strong element of Clevelandism without sinking into the effeminate; and Taylor continued to be nourished by the Metaphysical tradition well into the 18th century.
KeywordsEarly 18th Century Religious Lyric Philosophical Essay Divine Love Metaphysical Tradition
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