These two poets are sometimes treated as similar “metaphysical poets” whose major works were both published in 1633, after their deaths. Proper British gentlemen, they sought fame and power as courtiers, only to end up as Anglican priests known for their verses. But, in fact, their poems are very different and suffer from being lumped together. Their reputations have fluctuated wildly, assessed negatively by Dryden and Johnson, positively by Coleridge and T.S. Eliot. The latter usefully noted that the difference is “not that between the violence of Donne and the gentle imagery of Herbert, but rather a difference between the dominance of intellect over sensibility and the dominance of sensibility over intellect.” Together we will try freshly to discover and appreciate the wit and values of their poems. Poems are available on the web and the initial assignment will be distributed by email before our first meeting.
Instructor John Ward has been professor and chair of Kenyon College (Gambier OH) English Department and has served as Dean of Centre College (Danville KY). He earned his B.A. from Amherst College and Ph.D. from the University of Virginia, and has taught courses in 18th and 19th century British literature and the history of the British novel. He has published on 18th and 19th century British works as well as those of Vachel Lindsay and Robert Lowell.
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