The Influence of the Metaphysical Poets on the Poetry of T.s. Eliot

Open Access
Author:
Robertson, Allison Nicole
Area of Honors:
English
Degree:
Bachelor of Arts
Document Type:
Thesis
Thesis Supervisors:
  • Robert Hume, Thesis Supervisor
  • Lisa Ruth Sternlieb, Honors Advisor
Keywords:
  • seventeenth century
  • metaphysical poetry
  • T.S. Eliot
  • John Donne
Abstract:
T.S. Eliot’s poetry changed as he grew older, just as the poets who influenced him changed. The metaphysical poets, especially John Donne, were a great influence on T.S. Eliot in his early life. He admired them for their high place in the world of literary criticism, their combination of intellect and emotion and wit. After Eliot converted to High Church Anglicanism, however, he began to admire different poets instead, poets that he deemed more “religious” than the metaphysicals. Eliot saw Dante as more religious than the metaphysicals because the definition of belief during his time meant more than the belief of the seventeenth-century metaphysicals. Even as Eliot focused more on Dante, he never lost the imprint of the seventeenth century on his poetry, found in elements like wit, irony, the grotesque and the extended conceit. While Eliot exhibited elements of seventeenth-century metaphysicality, he combined the elements of thought and feeling and refined the definition of divine love, creating elements for a type of metaphysical poetry of his own.