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In Wonder, Love and Praise

Approaches to Poetry, Theology and Philosophy


Edited By Martin Potter, Malgorzata Grzegorzewska and Jean Ward

This collection of essays explores poetry’s contribution to the expression of theological wonder, which can occur both in ordinary life and in the natural world or can arise in the context of explicitly supernatural mystical experience. Poets have a special role in capturing religious awe in ways beyond the power of discursive language. Some essays in this book approach the subject on a theoretical level, working with theology, philosophy and literary criticism. Others provide close readings of poems in which the engagement with a variously understood idea or experience of wonder is prominent, from the English-language tradition and outside it. Poets from culturally and historically different backgrounds are thus drawn together through the focus on the meaning of wonder.

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Wondering/Wandering: Scepticism and the (Peripatetic) Enlightenment


If Enlightenment means the right to ask any question, then it is the right to make the Enlightenment questionable.

John D. Caputo, “On the Power of the Powerless”

Abstract: The essay discusses the idea of wonder by tracing its affinity with the movement of “wandering”, which implies scepticism towards guides and guidelines, and hence openness to the unexpected. This movement is traced in the poetry of William Wordsworth and William Blake, who, by questioning the firm guidance of reason as promoted by the Enlightenment, partake in uncertainty that blurs the boundary between reason and belief.

Keywords: wonder, Romantic poetry, the Enlightenment, scepticismreason, belief

In the Charles Dickens Museum, at 48 Doughty Street, London, there is a chair prominently exhibited that purports to symbolise this author’s endeavours as a writer; but the sedentary efforts of many writers like Dickens who were flâneurs came very much from walking, wandering, perhaps aimlessly, and observing, either the city or the rural landscape. One may surely think not only of Dickens but also of Baudelaire and Wordsworth, all of whom wandered, sometimes accompanied, sometimes “lonely as a cloud”. William Blake’s famous image of Newton, sitting still and bending low, with paper and dividers in his hands, his gaze locked downward, became an iconic representation of a scientist buried deeply in his work and his thoughts, motionless. Yet Nietzsche warned, “Remain seated as little as possible, put no trust in any thought that is not...

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