Eliot praises the ability of Donne to unify the intellectual thoughts and sensation of feeling
Question: How does T.S. Eliot praise Donne’s ability to unify the intellectual thoughts and sensation of feeling?
T.S. Eliot (1888-1965) is the first critic who in his essay “The Metaphysical Poets” has praised the ability of John Donne. Sensuous apprehension of thought is called the unification of sensibility. To put it differently, unified sensibility means the combination of emotion and thought. Donne’s power of fusing intellectual thoughts and sensation of feeling is the key issue of Eliot’s essay.
The Variety of mood and experience
Eliot argues that Donne’s poetry is chiefly remarkable for the range and variety of mood and attitude. By dint of the variety of mood, Donne has been able to blend thought and emotion in a bizarre way that has been designated as ‘a mechanism of sensibility’ which can devour any kind of experience.
Intellectualism and logical quality
According to Eliot, the metaphysical poets are called intellectual poets, but their intellectuality is not devoid of passionate thinking. But rather they are logically associated. The critic refers to one of the love poems of Donne entitled “A valediction: Forbidding Mourning” in which Donne moves from thought to thought with measured and weighty music.
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Using imagery and conceits
Eliot remarks that Donne’s poems arise from an emotional situation. Then the poet argues to make his attitude acceptable and, in this process, the conceits are used as instruments. His originality is reflected when he uses images and conceits from various sources and fields. Eliot specially mentions “The Relic” which is one of the famous poems of John Donne.
“A bracelet of bright hair about the bone,”
Thus, Donne achieves the power of unification of sensibility very successfully and artificially. His poetry gives the impression that the thought and arguments are arising immediately out of passionate feelings. It is part of the dramatic realism of his style. He could combine disparate experiences and build something new through a variety of subjects.