What Is The Definition Of Metaphysical Poetry

Metaphysical poetry is a type of literature that uses vivid, imaginative imagery, symbolism and extended metaphors to explore the unknown and explain complex concepts. A metaphysical poem is often an exploration of the human existence within its physical, intellectual and spiritual forms, aiming to understand not only its complex nature, but also the relationship between mankind and the world we live in. Metaphysical poetry uses spiritual concepts as metaphors to explore these ideas in a poetic form, instead of relying on conventional physical and philosophical explanations. The term ‘metaphysical’ was first introduced by English critic and poet, Samuel Johnson, in reference to the work of early 17th century English poets such as John Donne, George Herbert, Andrew Marvell and Henry Vaughan.

Perhaps the most recognizable feature of metaphysical poetry is its intense use of imagery and metaphors. These techniques are used to meditate and reflect on the world around us and draw connections between everyday life and abstract ideas. This form of expression invites the reader to deepen their understanding of the human experience by questioning and discovering the layered meanings behind the figurative language. Metaphysical poetry is not only about exploration, it is also about communication, as it serves to make deeper connections between us and the world, allowing us to explore and share our experiences.

Metaphysical poetry is also characterized by its use of wit and intellectual play. By using vivid imagery, paradoxes and metaphysical conceits, metaphysical poets sought to open the reader’s mind to new possibilities and ways of thinking. They often used religious, philosophical and scientific concepts to explain the complexities of human life, offering a unique perspective and inviting the reader to explore their own understanding of reality. Metaphysical poets were not afraid to challenge the conventional and explore the depths of the human experience through their writing.

Modern writers can use metaphysical poetry as a form of expression to make connections between their own experiences and those of the world at large. While the techniques and styles used by metaphysical poets may have evolved over time, their intention remains the same: to explore the depths of life, make connections and express our collective humanity. By embracing the language of poetry, readers can gain a better understanding of the complexities that make us human, as well as the power of language to convey complex ideas.


One of the key features of metaphysical poetry is the use of metaphor. This can be used to explain abstract concepts, or to draw connections between physical and psychological realms. Metaphors are used to create vivid images that evoke emotion and can help to open up the reader’s imagination as they explore the possibilities of the world we live in. Metaphors can also be used to explore philosophical or spiritual ideas, allowing the reader to better understand complex concepts.


Symbolism is another common element in metaphysical poetry. Symbols can represent abstract ideas, such as love, freedom or morality, and can be used to draw upon a variety of themes. Symbols can be used to create images and evoke emotions, as well as to create connection between different aspects of reality. The use of symbols is often challenging for readers, as it can require deeper understanding of the poem’s meaning in order to see the connection between the poet’s words and reality.

Extended Metaphors

Extended metaphors are often used in metaphysical poetry to explore different aspects of reality. These metaphors can be used to explain complex themes and ideas, or to link physical and spiritual concepts. Extended metaphors can also be used to explore a variety of themes, such as the experience of love, comfort or the passage of time. By using extended metaphors, the poet can explore different ideas, connecting them to one another and helping the reader to understand the interrelatedness of life.


Metaphysical poetry is a type of literature that seeks to explore the complexities of life through vivid imagery, symbolism and extended metaphors. It invites the reader to explore and question the world that we live in, as well as to make deeper connections between our own experiences and those of the world at large. By incorporating wit, paradox and metaphysical conceits, metaphysical poets have created a unique form of expression that continues to challenge and inspire modern readers.

Dannah Hannah is an established poet and author who loves to write about the beauty and power of poetry. She has published several collections of her own works, as well as articles and reviews on poets she admires. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in English, with a specialization in poetics, from the University of Toronto. Hannah was also a panelist for the 2017 Futurepoem book Poetry + Social Justice, which aimed to bring attention to activism through poetry. She lives in Toronto, Canada, where she continues to write and explore the depths of poetry and its influence on our lives.

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