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In Wonder, Love and Praise

Approaches to Poetry, Theology and Philosophy

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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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“La Mystère, la Beauté, et la Mystique de la Nature”: The Poetics of Wonder in Henry Beston’s The Outermost House

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Abstract: Henry Beston’s The Outermost House (1928) records, in a highly poetic fashion, a year spent in hermitic and “mystical” solitude by the Atlantic Ocean at Cape Cod. Deep reverence, sincere gratitude, and a sense of brotherhood with all creatures permeate Beston’s “poetics of wonder”. The dominant note of the book is wonder at the mysteries and miracles of Life and of creation.

Keywords: nature, solitude, reverence, mystery, creation

In December 1926 Henry Beston, aged 38, jotted down in his diary the following sentence in his mother’s native tongue:

La Nature, voilà mon pays.

L’œuvre – célébrer, révéler la mystère, la beauté,

et la mystique de la Nature, du Monde Visible.

Attacher ce sentiment à mon nom.1

Nature, that is my country.

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