Existentialism In John Gunn's Metaphysical Poetry

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The influence of the seventeenth century Metaphysical poets is evident in Gunn‘s poetry, which like theirs is remarkable for a sensibility formed by a union of intellectual clarity and deep emotion consisting of a heavy spicing of wit and irony. However, the warmth and sensitivity of the Metaphysicals is not always present. Instead, we see a dominating theme of his verse to be an aggressive desire for the individual to dominate his environment. It occurs in two ways. Firstly, it imposes order on the flux of existence in an intellectual form and next it projects the heavy dominance of one personality over others. In his autobiographical accounts Gunn mentions Stendhal alongside Sartre and Camus as important discoveries in the course of his intellectual…show more content…
Such systems treated man merely as a passive observer of the external world. By contrast, existentialist man took in the whole spectrum of existence known directly and concretely by not just thinking but as an initiator of action and a centre of feeling. The doctrine existence precedes essence shows how man should locate reality in the concrete actualities of experience. Philosophers of existence distrust intellectual abstractions and locate reality in the concrete actualities of experience. As to the question of deciding issues of meaning and value, the existentialist says that man creates meaning and value by his freely willed choices and actions. Human existence is, of course, riddled with dread or anxiety over failing to achieve authentic being. Since every choice entails consequences of which we have no certain knowledge, every choice involves an element of risk and one‘s willing submission to this possibility is an act of faith, a leap in the dark. The existentialist man‘s focus was on the whole spectrum of existence where thinking, action and feelings were considered more important and significant than intellect or reason.
The poetry of Thom Gunn easily lends itself to interpretation in existential terms. Throughout his work, Gunn has employed terms and concepts drawn from
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In verse, metrical ordering becomes an adequate form of containment. Although the mind and senses must forego certitudes, and man has to live in a world only half-understood, it is nevertheless, the duty of the rational will to try to discriminate between the false and half-true premises. Having understood its importance, Winters had successfully managed to have kept the faculties of will and intelligence active and
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