Metaphysical Wit from Shakespeare to Donne

  • James P. Bednarz
Part of the Palgrave Shakespeare Studies book series (PASHST)


In 1921, Herbert Grierson refused to include a single work by Shakespeare in his ground-breaking anthology Metaphysical Lyrics and Poems of the Seventeenth Century: Donneto Butler, apparently assuming that Shakespeare did not lend himself to this genealogy. But in 1957, Helen Gardner disregarded Grierson’s precedent by adding a single Shakespeare lyric ‘The Phoenix and the Turtle’ to her collection The Metaphysical Poets as a proto-metaphysical verse that approximated, although imperfectly, to key features of John Donne’s style and thought. Yet even though Gardner acknowledged affinities between Shakespeare’s and Donne’s poetics strong enough to number Shakespeare among the metaphysicals, she also implied that he never achieved Donne’s level of sophistication in the new style.


Seventeenth Century Private World Lyric Poetry Turtle Dove Divine Essence 
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Copyright information

© James P. Bednarz 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • James P. Bednarz
    • 1
  1. 1.Long Island UniversityUSA

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