Metaphysical poetry for the new millennium – part 2

Welcome to part 2 of my contemporary makeover of three metaphysical poems.

To recap, the metaphysical poets were a group of 17th century poets who, although not a part of a movement in itself, shared particular characteristics.

In short, their style was philosophical, intelligent, logical, hyperbolic, critical, sometimes caustic and often funny, and they were not afraid to clearly express their opinions.

In part 2 I’ve reworked another of John Donne’s poems, The Flea.

My poem is titled The Three, and was inspired by Donne’s mixing of the three bloods in The Flea.

It is not to be read as a re-writing of that poem, more an inspirational starting point. The initial inspiration being the mixing of blood in, The Flea, which is a characteristic metaphysical metaphor, used here for sex, and yet another crazy logic designed to seduce.

The protagonist claims that they (he and his intended) are not really two individuals, but rather, because they have both been bitten by the flea, already one, albeit the two are one within the flea.

He is saying they are joined within the flea as they would be in sex, so why not have sex?

The Three, also uses logic, but here it’s put to philosophical use. The three philosophical logics are, if the universe be infinite, wherever I stand I am at its centre, in relation to everything else in the universe I am everywhere within it, and finally, because I create my own concept of what I perceive, then I am the universe I create. Both poems try to achieve and express their logics in an intellectual and lyrical, rhyming couplet fashion.


The Three

There is within, dwell three in me,

Yet none of them be seen by thee.

And even with me, the paradox twists,

With every self, the perspective shifts.

Turn not away, this is no deceit,

Come; I implore, my three to meet.

My first abides, in the middle of all,

From the centre of the universe I call.

And at that centre only I can be,

For all infinity spreads out from me.

My number two rests all around,

There’s nowhere in space I can’t be found.

For I am beside all, and all around.

Wheresoever I sit, I am besides,

Never one place but all asides.

Now last but most, I am the one,

From within me the universe begun.

God am I, as to all I perceive,

I am my own universe and upon it I weave.

A life for myself, from birth to death,

Alone yet many with every breath.

So, when you consider you know me complete,

I remind you now, check your own conceit.

(Copyright Andrew James Macleod 2020)

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