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Breaking the Silence

Poetry and the Kenotic Word

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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».
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The Dogmatic Definition of the Council of Chalcedon (451) of Two Natures in the Person of Jesus Christ as a Criterion of the Incarnational Character of Poetry

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In considering the nature of Christian poetry, we must refer to something that for Christianity is essential. To explain this requires both a historical and a dogmatic approach. Although these two approaches differ, each ultimately leads us to the Incarnation. Together with the doctrine of the Trinity, the Incarnation forms the core of Christian faith. As a mystery grounded in supernatural Revelation, a dogma itself presupposes limitations to its intellectual component. How is this fact to be dealt with? In explicating dogma, we have to be content with concise formulae, which, although they render the general meaning, also reveal the limitations of the given dogma as a statement. In the case of Incarnation, the doctrinal formula has very rich historical and philosophical consequences which do not seem to have been sufficiently exploited yet. This situation requires to be remedied as quickly as possible, in order to help us not only in defining and identifying Christianity, but also in re-discovering its original richness and perspectives.

Before we begin this reflection, however, it will be helpful to explain the way in which the term “Christianity” is here understood. It is as much a historical, sociological and cultural phenomenon as a religious and spiritual one. In all its dimensions, it is interesting and attractive for literature, and there is no doubt that literature is an integral aspect of Christianity as a cultural phenomenon. The core of Christianity, however, is something which unifies the dimensions mentioned above. It is something...

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