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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Poetic "play" and man's dilemmas: studies in the poetry of Donne and Marvell Watson, Christopher John


Donne and Marvell are renowned as 'witty' poets. The description is invited by such habits as the use of extravagant imagery, the arguing of implausible positions, the striking of threatrical poses which call in question their attitude to themselves and to their stated views. These qualities appear not only in their slight poems, but in works that are demonstrably major, in poems which, are weighty, perceptive, and passionately committed. The aim of this study is to examine a number of their major poems in some detail to see how integral their playful qualities are in establishing their full meaning. A number of Marvell's shorter poems, "A Dialogue between the Soul and Body", the four "Mower" poems, and "To his Coy Mistress" look at fundamental human dilemmas. Artfully constructed situations and witty discussions provide parables for representative human problems, especially ones concerning the difficulties of growth and of action within a finite and mutable world.

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