Despite Nietzsche’s predictions, Christianity has not faded away; Christianity and post-Christianity exist alongside each other in the Western world. But today’s Christian poet speaks to an audience that often has little understanding of the language, symbols and theological concepts that inform his or her work. This study looks selectively at the work of three poets, two grounded in the Anglican and one in the English Roman Catholic tradition, attempting to show how each has responded to this situation. Geoffrey Hill, R. S. Thomas and Elizabeth Jennings, each in different and inventive ways, draw on the rich resources of Christian culture, literary, liturgical, mystical and devotional, reaching far back into English tradition as well as outside it, and by implication revealing an element of regret at the consequences of the English Reformation.
Poetry and the Kenotic Word
Edited by Malgorzata Grzegorzewska, Jean Ward and Mark Burrows
This book of essays on poetic speech, viewed in a literary-critical, theological and philosophical light, explores the connections and disconnections between vulnerable human words, so often burdened with doubt and pain, and the ultimate kenosis of the divine Word on the Cross. An introductory discussion of language and prayer is followed by reflections linking poetry with religious experience and theology, especially apophatic, and questioning the ability of language to reach out beyond itself. The central section foregrounds the motif of the suffering flesh, while the final section, including essays on seventeenth-century English metaphysical poetry and several of the great poets of the twentieth century, is devoted to the sounds and rhythms which give a poem its own kind of «body».