Poetry Definitions
Metaphysical. A term now generally applied to a group of seventeenth-century poets; chiefly Donne, Carew, Herbert, Crashaw, Vaughan, Marvell, Cleveland and Cowley. In his Discourse of the Original and Progress of Satire (1692) Dryden said of Donne: He affects the metaphysics not only in his satires, but in his amorous verses, where nature only should reign, and perplexes the minds of the fair sex with nice speculations of philosophy.” Later Johnson in his Lives of the Poets (1779-81) established the term more or less permanently as a label. Johnson wrote somewhat disapprovingly of the discordia concors in metaphysical imagery, and referred to “heterogeneous ideas…yoked by violence together.” The marks of 17th c. metaphysical poetry were arresting and original images and conceits (part. analogies between microcosm and macrocosm), wit, ingenuity, colloquial speech, flexibility of rhythm and meter, complex themes (sacred and profane), paradox and dialectical argument, humor, elliptical thought and compact expression.
Conceit. By 1600 the term was still being used as a synonym for ‘thought’ and as roughly equivalent to ‘concept’ ‘idea’ and ‘conception’. It might also then denote a fanciful supposition, an ingenious act of deception, or a witty or clever remark or idea. As a literary term this word has come to denote a fairly elaborate figurative device of a fanciful kind which often incorporates metaphor, simile, hyperbole or oxymoron and which is intended to surprise and delight by its wit and ingenuity. Examples: Inventory or blazon (catalogue of mistress’s charms) and carpe diem conceit (don’t delay loving because beauty fades). An extension of this is the kind of conceit which contains an assurance that though beauty may fade and die, the poet’s verses will be immortal. In general, a juxtaposition of images and comparisons between very dissimilar objects is a common form of conceit in the 17th c. and the so-called metaphysical conceit is the most well-known. A famous example is Donne’s A Valediction: forbidding mourning.
Blazon. (Fr. Shield or “coat of arms”). As a literary term it was used by the followers of Petrarchanism to describe verses which dwelt upon and detailed the various parts of a woman’s body; a sort of catalogue of her physical attributes. Such a catalogue was a convention established in the 13th c. and often used after Marot published his Blason du Beau Tetin (1536). As a rule there was nothing original in this form of conceit
Spenser, Epithalamion (1595)
  Her goodly eyes like sapphires shining bright,
Her forehead ivory white
Her cheeks like apples which the sun hath rudded,
Her lips like cherries charming men to biteÉ

And it was easily mocked

Greene, Menaphon (1598)
  Thy teeth like to the tusks of the fattest swine,
They speech is like the thunder in the air:
Would God thy toes, thy lips, and all were mine.