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01141-- What is Metaphysical Conceit?



A device that often appears in metaphysical poetry is the metaphysical conceit, a type of metaphor or simile in which the comparison is unusually striking, original, and elaborate.  While all metaphors and similes show likeness in two unlike things, a conceit compares two unlike things that may at first seem to have no connection whatsoever.  In “Meditation 17,” for example, Donne compares humanity to a book in which each person makes up a chapter.  As you read these selections, look for other examples of metaphysical conceits, and notice how Donne’s elaboration allows you to make sense of the unusual comparisons.

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