By A. J. Smith

English metaphysical poetry, from Donne to Marvell, is conspicuously witty. A. J. Smith seeks the relevant significance of wit within the taking into consideration the metaphysical poets, and argues that metaphysical wit is basically diverse from different modes of wit present in Renaissance Europe. Formal theories and rhetorics of wit are thought of either for his or her theoretical import and their value determinations of wit in perform. triumphing models of witty invention are scrutinized in Italian, French, and Spanish writings, in an effort to deliver out the character and influence of varied different types of wit: immodest, hieroglyphic, transformational, and others from which the metaphysical mode is amazing. He locates the root of Renaissance wit within the acquired belief of the created order and a conception of literary innovation inherent in Humanist trust, which resulted in novel couplings of time and eternity, physique and soul, guy and God. but, he reveals that metaphysical wit distinctively works to find a non secular presence in brilliant occasions; and he strains its loss of life within the 1660s to alterations within the figuring out of the flora and fauna linked to the increase of empirical technological know-how.

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The incessant play of wit, always outgoing expectation, projects a life of the mind which is no less evident in the verve of the writing itself. The poems call for nimbleness in the reading. Serafino will carry 24 METAPHYSICAL WIT an argument through quite unpredictably so that we can never just rest in the sense going forward but must keep alert to subtle shifts of direction, fresh applications of the device, incidental kicks of wit, sudden reversals and disclosures, startling paradoxes, clinching final strokes.

They combined the status of a proto-science with the appeal of magic. The adepts who marshalled them discover nothing less than a universe entirely made up of divine hieroglyphs which express the ordered working of God's creation. Our mastery of nature's powers is made to depend upon our capacity to read these enigmatic signals aright, and imitate them in hieroglyphs of our own devising which themselves encode the hidden relationships in nature. Such devices are taken for readings in the Book of Creation, revelations of hidden truth which might even work spiritual ends.

Farra's derivation of the modern academies from 'the Magia of Zoroaster and Zamolside'30 conflates the making of imprese with the art of magic. It opens to the academicians the prospect of an affective part in the universal interchange of love whose sponsor is the thrice-great Hermes himself, 'firstborn of the sempiternal Jove'. 31 The search for occult knowledge becomes at once spiritual and practical, amounting to an attempt to control the forces of nature both within and beyond ourselves. In effect the end must be the recovery of man's lost powers rather than the discovery of something new.

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