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From The Short Oxford History of
English Literature, by Andrew Sanders:
The picturesque emotionalism of continental baroque art was a central
feature of the Counter-Reformation crusade to win back the hearts and
souls of those lost to the Roman Church by the fissures of the
Reformation. Protestant England remained largely untouched by the more
heady pictorial and architectural styles sponsored by the Pope's main
agents in the campaign, the Jesuits, but, despite gestures of
resistance and disapproval, a degree of Jesuit spirituality left its
mark on English literature. The martyred missionary priest, Robert
Southwell (?1561-95, canonized in 1970), managed to work secretly for
nine perilous years in England before his execution; his books
circulated far less secretly. The prose meditation, Marie Magdalens Funeral Teares,
which was published in 1591, ran through some seven further editions by
1636, and the two collections of verse, Saint Peters complaynt, with other
Poems and Moeoniae:
or, Certaine excellent Poems and Spiritual Hymnes,
both of which contain poems written during his three-year imprisonment,
were printed in London in the year of his death. Southwell's poems were
respected both by Roman Catholics and byAnglicans, the extraordinarily
contrived Christmas meditation, 'The Burning Babe', being particularly
admired by Ben Jonson. Donne, the author of the scurrilous anti-Jesuit
tract Ignatius His Conclave of
1611 and who eight years later feared for his safety at the hands of
'such adversaries, as I cannot blame for hating me' when he travelled
across Germany, was none the less influenced by the kind of meditative
religious exercises recommended to the faithful by the founder of the
Society of Jesus. St. Ignatius Loyola's Spiritual Exercises
had been approved by the Pope in 1648 as a manual of systematic
devotion which employed sense impressions, the imagination, and the
understanding as a means of prompting the spirit to consider the lapsed
human and the glorious divine condition. The Ignatian method was not
unique (it drew on late medieval precedents and it was developed by
later Spanish and French churchmen) but its currency was assured by the
missionary and educational work undertaken by the Jesuits. The fact
that such regulated guides to meditation could be used privately meant
that they appealed, with varying degrees of excision, to secluded
Recusants, devout Anglicans, and soul-searching Puritans alike.
A similar spiritual cross-fertilization is evident in the popularity of
emblem books in seventeenth-century England. The emblem consisted of
three interrelated parts—a motto, a symbolic picture, and an
exposition—each of which suggested a different means of considering
and apprehending a moral or religious idea. The form had had a certain
currency as a learned, and generally secular, educational device in the
sixteenth century, but its renewed applivation to private relisious
study and its intermixture of Latin motto, biblical quotation, engraved
and ostensibly enigmatic picture, and English poem made for a
widespread influence which readily cut across confessional barriers.
Francis Quarles's Emblemes, Divine
(1635) proved to be the most popular book of verse of its age. Quarles
(1592-1644) and his engraver took and, where Protestant occassion
demanded, adapted plates from Jesuit emblem books; only the
disappointingly pedestrian accompanying poems were original. Emblemes and its successor Hieroglyphicks of the Life of Man
(1638) demand that the reader interpret and gradually unwind an idea
which is expressed epigrammatically, visually, and poetically. 'The
embleme is but a silent parable', Quarles insisted in his address to
the user of his books, and he goes on to suggest the importance of the
linkage of word and picture: 'Before the knowledge of letters, God was
knowne by Hieroglyphicks; And indeed, what are the Heavens, the Earth,
nay every Creature, but Hieroglyphicks and Emblemes of his Glory?' The
moral message is, however, predominantly one which stresses a
conventionally Christian contempt for the world ('O what a crocodilian
world is this / Compos'd of treach'ries, and insnaring wiles', 'O
whither will this mad-brain world at last / Be driven? Where will her
restless wheels arrive?'), and the pictures variously show children
confusing a wasps' nest for a beehive in a globe, fools sucking at a
huge earth-shaped breast, and a figure of vanity smoking a pipe while
perched perilously on a tilting orb.
The intellectual demands made on a reader by an emblem book were
paralleled by the wit, the imaginative picturing, the compression, the
often crytic expression, the play of paradoxes, and the juxtapositions
of metaphor in the work of Donne and his immediate followers, the
so-called 'metaphysical poets'. The use of the term 'metaphysical' in
this context was first given critical currency by Samuel Johnson in the
eighteenth century and it sprang from an unease, determined by
'classical' canons of taste, with the supposed contortions of the style
and imagery of Donne and Cowley. Johnson had a particular distaste for
the far-fetched strained 'conceits' (witty and ingenious ideas) in
which Donne's poetry abounds. This prejudice against the distinct
'metaphysical' style had earlier been shared by Quarles, who in 1629
complained of 'the tyranny of strong
lines, which . . . are the meere itch of wit; under the colour
of which many have ventured . . . to write non-sense'. The
work of Donne's friend, admirer, and fellow-priest, George Herbert
(1593-1633), possesses a restrained and contemplative rapture which is
paralleled less by the extravagances of southern European baroque art
than by the often enigmatic paintings of his French contemporary,
Georges de la Tour. Herbert's own 'itch of wit' can none the less find
its expression in playing with the shapes and sounds of words: he puns
in his title to 'The Collar' and with the name 'Jesu' in the poem of
that name he teases letters in his 'Anagram of the Virgin Marie'; in
'Heaven' he exploits echo-effects as delightedly as did his Venetian
musical contemporaries, and he gradually reduces words to form new ones
in 'Paradise'. His relationship to the emblem book tradition is evident
in his printing of certain of his poems as visual designs (the shapes
of 'The Altar' and the sideways printed 'Easter Wings' make patterns
which suggest their subjects). If he is a less frenetic and startling
poet than Donne, he is a far more searching and inventive one than
Quarles. The two poems called 'Jordan' (from the fount of their
inspiration) describe the act of writing a sacred poetry which eschews
a structural 'winding stair' and the 'curling with metaphors' of a
'plain intention'. As with his most influential models, the parables of
Jesus, Herbert's illustrations of the central mysteries of God and his
creation take the form of sharply observed but 'plain' stories drawn
from, and illuminated by, everyday experience.
The elegance of Herbert's poetry is as much the result of art as it is
an expression of a cultivated, but not forced, spiritual humility. He
had been born into a distinguished and cultured noble family but his
decision to take deacon's orders in 1626, and his ordination to the
priesthood and appointment as rector of a country parish in 1630 struck
many of his grand contemporaries as a deliberate turning of his back on
secular ambition. According to Izaak Walton, Herbert responded to a
friend who taxed him with taking 'too mean an employment, and too much
below his birth' that 'the Domestick Servants of the King of Heaven,
should be of the noblest Families on Earth'. He would, he insisted,
make 'Humility lovely in the eyes of all men'. Herbert's work is
permeated with reference to service and to Christ as the type of the
suffering servant, but his poetry is equally informed by a gentlemanly
grasp of the chivalric code of obligation. Society, as we glimpse it in
this world and the next, is hierarchical and ordered, and the human
response to God's love can be expressed in terms of an almost feudal
obligation. In 'The Pearl', for example, the poet insists that he knows
'the wayes of Honour, what maintains / The quick returns of courtesie
and wit'. In the first of the poems called 'Affliction' he describes a
changing understanding of service to a liege-lord, a service which at
first gives rich satisfaction ('Thy glorious household-stuffe did me
entwine') and brings rewards ('thou gav'st me milk and sweetness; I had
my wish and way'); as a process of disillusion sets in, the poem allows
a sense of betrayal to surface, but this in turn is transformed by the
final insistence on an obligation shaped not by duty but by the
more pressing demands of love ('Ah my deare God! though I am clean
forgot, / Let me not love thee, if I love thee not'). 'Redemption'
describes a tenant's search for his 'rich Lord' only to find him
mortally wounded amid 'a ragged noise and mirth / Of theeves and
murderers'; the magnanimity of the Lord is proved in a dying gesture of
assent to the tenant's request. In 'The Collar' the remarkable
evocation of impatient resistance to service ends as the 'raving'
protests subside in response to the steady call of Christ. The call to
the 'Child' (perhaps here both
the disciple and a youth of gentle birth) evokes the willing reply 'My Lord'.
Herbert's vocation as a priest of the Church of England, and his
loyalty to its rituals, calendar, and discipline is central both to his
prose study of the ideal country parson, A Priest to the Temple (published
in The Remaines of that Sweet Singer
of the Temple George Herbert in 1652), and to his Latin sequence
(1633) (poems which assert the propriety of Anglican ceremonial and
orders in the face of Puritan criticism). It is however, in The Temple,
the influential collection of his English poems published posthumously
in 1633, that Herbert most fully expresses his aspirations, failures,
and triumphs as a priest and as a believer. Sections of The Temple
are shaped according to the spiritual rhythms and the ups and downs of
religious experience. More significantly, the volume as a whole
possesses both an architectonic and a ritual patterning which derives
from the shape of an English parish church and from the festivals and
feasts celebrated within its walls. The whole work is prefaced by a
gnomic poetic expression of conventional moral advice to a young man.
The title of this preliminary poem, 'The Church-Porch', serves as a
reminder not only of a preparatory exercise before worship but also of
the physical importance of the porch itself (once the setting of
important sections of certain church services). The titles of poems in
the body of the volume ('The Church') imply both a movement through the
building noting its features ('The Altar', 'Chruch Monuments',
'Church-lock and key', 'The Church-floore', 'The Windows') and the
significance of its liturgical commemorations ('Good Friday', 'Easter',
'H. Baptisme', 'The H. Communion', 'Whitsunday', 'Sunday', 'Christma').
Interspersed are meditations on Christian belief and the varied
experience of the Christian life. The 'sacramental' poems have a
particular importance. By means of repeated words and phrases 'Aaron'
establishes a balanced contrast between the ceremonially vested Jewish
priest and his spiritually defective modern Christian counterpart. The
poem's debate is determined by an exploration of the import of the
words 'Holiness to the Lord' engraved on Aaron's ceremonial mitre. It
is only when Christ himself is recognized as the true sanctifier of the
parish priest that all unworthiness falls away and the vested minister
can properly present himself to his congregation, ready to celebrate
the Holy Communion: 'Come people; Aaron's drest'. The theology and
typology of eucharistic celebration are also explored in 'The Agonie'
and the concluding poem of the volume, 'Love III'. 'The Agonie' takes
as its central issue the human study of Sin and Love. The effect of Sin
is revealed in an agonized Christ 'so wrung with pains, that all his
hair, / His skinne, his garments bloudie be'. The very hyperbole here
allows for the conceit on which the poem turns; Sin is a wine-press
painfully proving the worth of Love and when in the concluding stanza
the crucified Christ's blood flows from his side it is mystically
perceived as sacramental wine: 'Love is that liquour sweet and most
divine, / Which my God feels as bloud; but I, as wine'. Bitterness is
transubstantiated into sweetness. 'Love' takes the form of a colloquy
in which the Lord, personified as Love, welcomes the sinner to his
feast, insistently answering each protest of unworthiness with a gentle
assertion of his grace:
And know you not, sayes Love, who
bore the blame?
My deare, then I will serve.
You must sit downe, sayes Love, and taste my meat:
So I did sit and eat.
The uneasy guest and the would-be servant are entertained as equals.
Throughout The Temple
the quakings of fear, the doubts, and the attempts at rebellion are
subsumed in a quiet loyalty inspired by the love of a generous God.
Restlessness, as seen in the deftly argued parrable of free will, 'The
Pulley', prompts the soul to seek heavenly comfort. In 'Affliction III'
the very utterance of the heaved sigh 'O God!' is
interpreted as a barely recognized sign of redemption and as an
admission of shared sorrow ('Thy life on earth was grief, and thou art
still / Constant unto it'). Even the figure of Death, in the poem of
that name, loses its skeletal terrors by being transformed by the
sacrifice of Christ into something 'fair and full of grace, / much in
request, much sought for as a good'. Herbert's 'Prayer before Sermon',
appended to A Priest to the Temple,
addresses a God who embodies 'patience, and pity, and sweetness, and
love', one who has exalted his mercy above all things and who has made
salvation, not punishment, his glory.
According to Izaac Walton's account, the dying Herbert entrusted the
manuscript of his poems to his pious friend Nicholas Ferrar (1592-1637)
who in 1625 had retired to his estate at Little Gidding in
Huntingdonshire to establish a 'Little Colledge', or religious
community of men and women, dedicated to the 'constant and methodical
service of God'. Ferrar was instructed that he would find in The Temple
'a picture of the many Conflicts that have past betwixt God and my
Soul' and he was allowed to choose whether to publish or burn the
manuscript. As his short preface of 1633 indicates, he clearly
recognized both the quality of the poems and their significance to the
increasingly beleaguered discipline of the Church of England. Although
his community impressed Charles I, it steadily provoked the hostility
of those Puritans who criticized it as an 'Arminian Nunnery' and who in
1646 finally succeeded in breaking it up.
Richard Crashaw (1613-49) was, through his friendship with Ferrar, a
regular visitor and keeper of vigils at Little Gidding. He was the son
of a particularly zealous Puritan 'Preacher of Gods worde' who had made
himself conspicuous as an anti-Papist. Crashaw's own religious
pilgrimage was to take him in an opposite direction to his father. As a
student of Cambridge and later as a fellow of Peterhouse he closely
associated himself with the extreme Laudian party in the University.
Deprived of his fellowship after the college chapel, to which he had
contributed fittings, was desecrated by Parliamentary Commissionners in
1643 he travelled abroad, eked out a precarious existence on the
fringes of Queen Henrietta Maria's court in exile, and ended his short
life as the holder of a small benefice at the Holy House at Loreto in
Italy. His English poetry—collected as Steps to the Temple: Sacred Poems, with other Delights of the Muses (1646, considerably expanded 1648) and later as Carmen Deo Nostro
(published in Paris in 1652)—clearly shows the nature of his religious
inclinations, both Anglican and Roman. The Preface to his earlier
volumes proclaims his allegiance to the English Church through
reference to Lancelot Andrewes and through the claim that the poems
were written as 'Stepps for
happy soules to climbe heaven by' under a 'roofe of Angels' at Little
St Mary's Church in Cambridge; the 1652 volume more assiduously
advertises the Catholic piety which had been only implicit before, and
offers an apology, probably not Crashaw's own, for the 'Hymn to Saint
Teresa' as 'having been writ when the author was yet among the
protestants'. The frontispice to the 1648 volume showed the faithful
mounting steps to a chastely decorous English church; the 1652 edition
is decorated throughout with lushly Catholic devotional images.
Although the title Steps to the Temple
nods back to Herbert, and though the volume contains a particularly
fulsome tribute to 'the Temple of Sacred Poems, sent to a Gentlewoman',
Crashaw's stylistic and structural debt to his model is limited.
Crashaw is the most decoratively baroque of the English
seventeenth-century poets, both in the extravagance of his
subject-matter and in his choice of metaphor. Where Donne is ingenious
and paradoxical, or Herbert delicately and aptly novel, Crashaw propels
traditional Christian images until they soar and explode like
sky-rockets or inflates them until they burst like plump confections.
His verse exhibits a fixation with the human body and with bodily
fluids: tears gush from eyes, milk from breasts, blood from wounds, and
at times the emissions become intermixed expressions of passionate
emotion. The series of 'Divine Epigrams' suggests a particular fondness
for miraculous or alchemical changes of substance: not only does water
become wine, or wine blood, but tears are pearls and drops of blood
rubies; the water of Christ's baptism 'is washt it selfe, in washing
him'; the water with which Pilate washes his hands is 'Nothing but
Teares; Each drop's a teare that weeps for her own wast'; the naked
Lord on the cross is clothed by 'opening the purple wardrobe of thy
side'; and the blood of the Holy Innocents is both blended with milk
and translated heavenwards. A similar, surreal vision informs the
triumphantly hyperbolic meditation on the Magdalen, 'The Weeper'. The
tears of the penitent flow unceasingly; transformed into stars they
form not simply a Milky Way in the heavens but a stream of cream from
which 'a briske Cherub something sips / Whose soft influence / Adds
sweetnesse to his sweetest lips'.
Crashaw's attraction to the history and the writings of the great
Spanish mystic, Teresa of Avila, who was canonized in 1622, is a
further reflection of his interest in highly charged religious emotion. In her spiritual autobiography Teresa had described the climax of her most celebrated vision of union with God in which she had become aware of the presence of an angel bearing a great golden spear tipped with fire; this he plunged several times into her hart. Teresa's amorous language in expressing her awareness of a 'gentle . . . wooing which takes place between God and the soul' clearly had its effect on Crashaw's luxuriant meditation first entitled 'In Memory of the Vertuous and Learned Lady Madre de Teresa that sought an early Martyrdome' and now generally known as 'A Hymn to Saint Teresa' from the abbreviation of its more explicitly Catholic title of 1652. The poem returns repeatedly to the idea of divine love as the wooer and arouser of the faithful soul; the 6-year-old seeking martyrdom is glimpsed as 'her weake breast heaves with strong desire', while the adult nun willingly opens herself as 'Loves victim' pierced not simply by a single seraphic dart, but exposed to a whole troop of armed Angels, 'Loves souldiers' who 'exercise their Archerie'. Teresa's vision of the spear reappears in a new guise in Crashaw's address to the Countess of Denbigh 'perswading her to Resolution in Religion' (in fact a plea to resolve herself into the Roman communion). The Countess is instructed to unfold herself like a flower in order to receive 'love's shower' which will fall like 'the wholesomes dart', a 'healing shaft which heavn till now / Hath in love's quiver hid for you'. The most florid expression of Crashaw's earlier Laudian ideal of worshipping the Lord in the beauty and dignity of holiness is the 'Hymn to the Name of Jesus'. This ceremonious paean to the 'Fair KING OF NAMES' draws its impulses from a long tradition of devotion to the incarnate Word, both biblical and mystical. The poem insists on the daily renewal of worship through the reawakening of the mind and the senses, and it particularly stresses the importance of music, the 'household stuffe of Heavn on earth', as an accompaniment to praise. Crashaw's sensitivity to music, also evident in his richly adjectival representation of instrumental sound and bird-song in 'Musicks Duell' (an elaboration of a Latin poem by the Jesuit, Strada), is here expressed in his deliberate echoes of musical phrasing. The 'Hymn to the Name of Jesus' recognizes an interrelationship between natural and musical harmony in which the vocal human heart plays its part in an 'unbounded All-imbracing SONG', but it also requires the heart to open itself, even in agony, to the promptings of divine love. The martyr's love-death no longer requires a seraphic dart, for the 'Rackes & Torments' of the earthly persecutors of true religion force open the human breast and cleave the heart ready for the reception of Heavenly fire. Pleasure and pain, orgasm and martyrdom, rape and resolution are yoked together by a lexical violence which seeks to express ultimate spiritual fulfilment. Where Crashaw yearns to represent an interior mystical passion through sensual metaphors drawn from the exterior human world, Henry Vaughan (1621-95) returns to the chaster and more private world of George Herbert as a means of articulating an inner sense of wonder. The subtitle of Vaughan's Silex Scintillans (1650, enlarged 1655), 'Sacred Poems and Private Ejaculations', is an exact echo of that of The Temple, and the Preface, dated 1654, refers to 'the blessed man, Mr George Herbert, whose holy life and verse gained many pious converts' (amongst whom Vaughan counted himself). Above all, one of the most Herbertian poems in the collection, 'The Match', represents a personal submission, artistically to a model poet and spiritually to that poet's God: Dear friend! whose holy, ever-living lines, Have done much good To many, and have checkt my blood, My fierce, wild blood that still heaves, and inclines, But still is tam'd By those bright fires which thee inflam'd; Here I joyn hands, and thrust my stubborn heart Into thy deed.
Vaughan most differs from Herbert, however, in his consistent rather than incidental use of natural imagery and in his steady exploration of the revelation of God in his creation. As a loyal royalist and Anglican writing at the time of the triumph of republican arms and the imposition of an alien church order, he retired to rural seclusion in Wales. That this retirement was sympathetic to him is suggested by his translations from the Latin of the stoic meditations on the flux of worldly affairs of Boethius and the Polish Jesuit, Casimir Sarbiewski (published in Olor Iscanus, 'the Swan of Usk', in 1651). Vaughan's finest devotional poetry, contained in the two volumes of Silex Scintillans, does, however, suggest a quite individual vision of a pastoral paradise which had been glimpsed in childhood, but which once lost to the adult could be regained only thorugh contemplation and revelation. Despite its dominant mood of serenity, Silex Scintillans is periodically charged with a subversive energy directed against the new political and religious status quo imposed by Parliament. The poem 'Abel's Blood' ostensibly protests at the blood shed by the first murderer and, by implication, at the crucifixion of Christ, but the complaint 'What thunders shall those men arraign / Who cannot count those they have slain, / Who bathe not in a shallow flood, / But in a deep, wide sea of blood' seems also likely to be a barbed reference to a parliamentary army who had not only waged a civil war but then proceeded to execute the King, the earthly governor of the Church. In 'The World' the 'darksome States-man' who feeds on churches and altars may equally be a reference to Cromwell, and in 'The British Church' the soldiers who 'here / Cast in their lots again' seem to be rending the seamless robe that once was the Church. The references in the titles o poems to the major feast-days of the Prayer Book Calendar ('Christ's Nativity', 'Easter-day', 'Ascension-day', 'White Sunday', 'Trinity Sunday') are also an Anglican assertion of the propriety of marking particular festivals in opposition to an official ban. The uncertainties, insecurities, and redefinitions of the political world would seem to have driven Vaughan in on himself and to an expression of an alternative spirituality. He looks less to a temple built with human hands than to open-air sanctuaries such as the tabernacles of the patriarchs of Israel. God is evident in numinous landscapes where angels discourse with men in sacred groves (in the poem 'Religion' the 'leaves thy spirit doth fan' are also the pages of the Bible). The true worship of God is expressed in a sense of harmony with observed Nature, the 'great Chime / And Symphony of nature' of 'The Morning-watch'. When in 'The Search' Christ is sought for at the sites associated with his earthly life, the pilgrim is bidden to look beyond the 'old elements or dust' and to find him in 'another world'. Vaughan seems to have responded particularly to the story of the patriarch Jacob, who had dreamed of an angelic ladder while resting on a stone pillow at Bethel, who had wrestled with an angel at Peniel, and at whose well at Sychar Jesus had spoken to the Samaritan woman of the water of life. Jacob's attributes—wells, fountains, stones, and angel-haunted groves—figure throughout his religious verse, notably in the extraordinary poem 'Regeneration', which Vaughan placed early in the first part of Silex. The poem traces and interrelationship of natural, biblical, and intenral landscapes, the exploration of one leading inexorably to another as the spiritual pilgrim probes the mysterious workings of grace. The divine breath called for in the poem's last lines takes up yet another biblical reference, one that is explained by the quotation from the Song of Solomon appended to it: 'Arise O north, and come thou south-wind, and blow upon my garden, that the spices thereof may flow out.' The secluded garden of the soul is stirred and quickened by the spirit of life itself. Silex Scintillans ('the sparkling flint') bears on its title-page an emblem of a flashing flint struck by a thunderbolt from the hand of God; the flint is shaped like a weeping or a bleeding heart and it flames as the ligtning falls. Vaughan's emblem is variously explained: a Latin poem which prefaces the volume draws out Ezekiel's prophecy that God will 'take the stony heart out of their flesh, and will give them a heart of flesh', but the personal application of the idea to the poet is twofold. His own comment that 'Certaine Divine Raies breake out of the Soul in adversity, like sparks of fire out of the afflicted flint' illuminates the dominant idea, but the actual choice of a flint was determined by a Latin pun on 'silex' and on the name of the ancient British tribe from which Vaughan claimed descent, the Silures. 'The Silurist', as the poet habitually styled himself, sees himself as made vocal by adversity. His Church and his political cause are devastated, and, as the nine untitled poems interspersed in his two volumes suggest, the death of friends has disturbed his peace of mind. These elegiac verses often suggest the dragging movement of time and the painful counting of its passage ('Each day is grown a dozen year, / and each houre, one'; 'Silence, and stealth of dayes! 'tis now / Since thou art gone, / Twelve hundred houres') but their mourning mood is variously checked; internal qualifications bring consolation and individual poems relate not only to each other but to the titled poems which surround them. The 'pearl' discovered in 'Silence and stealth of dayes' is Christ's 'pearl of great price' which outwights all other value; the roots that sleep in the wintry soil of 'I walkt the other day' are to bring forth new life in an eternal spring; the sense of lonely exile in 'They are all gone into the world of light!' is transformed by the investigation of a series of conceits (death as a jewel shining in the night, an empty bird's nest, a dream of angels, a star confined in a tomb) which serve to 'disperse these mists, which blot and fill / My perspective'. The dispersal of gloom is elswwhere taken as a central metaphor for revelation. 'The Morning-watch' welcomes the floods of light as a foretaste of heaven; 'The Dawning' recognizes that dawn is 'the only time / That with thy glory doth best chime' and therefore the fittest time to mediatate on the Second Coming; Eternity ostensibly glimpsed with such wonderful casualness in 'The World' is like 'a great Ring of pure and endless light' in which 'the world / and all her train were hurl'd'. Where in 'The Night' Vaughan describes the nocturnal visit of Nicodemus to Jesus, he plays with a series of contrasts between light and darkness, waking and sleeping, education and oblivion. The poem centres on a pun and a paradox: at midnight Nicodemus seees both the Son and the Sun and his enlightenment consists of an insight into the mystery of God's 'deep, but dazling darkness'. It is a night into which Vaughan's poetry consistently peers.
Henry King's meditations on mortality and eternity lack the often electrifying originality of Vaughan's. As Dean of Rochester Cathedral in 1642, King (1592-1669) had his library destroyed and his church pillaged by a rampaging gang of Puritan iconoclasts; in the same year he was appointed Bishop of Chichester only to be ejected from his see in 1643 (he was restored to in in 1660). As his somewhat florid 'Elegy upon the most Incomparable King Charles the First' of 1649 demonstrates, the nature of his political and religious loyalties was never in doubt. The 'Elegy' unequivovally sees Charles as a martyr enthroned in heaven while below him his former subjects are sundered from each other by 'that Bloody Cloud, / whose purple Mists Thy Murther'd Body Shroud'. Vengeance, King solemnly reminds his readers, is a prime prerogative of God, a factor which 'bids us our Sorrow by our Hope confine,/ And reconcile our Reason to our Faith'. Much of King's verse is, however, secular in subject and unspecifically Christian in its imagery, though even his amorous poetry is haunted by a vague melancholy and an awareness of transience. Both the 'Midnight Meditation' and the much imitated stanza 'Sic Vita' (generally ascribed to him) stress the frailty of human life and human aspiration. Amongst his many elegies the tribute to his dead wife, 'The Exequy. To his Matchlesse never to be forgotten Freind', quite transcends the rest of his poetry in quality and poignancy. Although the poem scarcely sets out to forbid mourning, its interplay of images of books and libraries, of suns, stars, and seasons, and finally of battle ('My pulse like a soft Drum / Beats my approach, tells Thee I come') suggests something of King's debt to the 'valedictions' of John Donne.
Me avisa un compañero de que aparezco en la séptima edición del MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers: "Estaba
ojeando la séptima edición del MLA Handbook for Writers of Research
Papers (...) y me
encuentro que en la pág. 185 ponen tu bibliografía como ejemplo para citar
material de Internet. No sólo la mencionan, sino que hay una gran ilustración de
la página inicial e indicaciones para efectuar citas y referencias." ¡Albricias y otras palabras alegres!
From the chapter on Anglo-Saxon
literature in A Critical History of
English Literature, by David Daiches.
Though some of the Anglo-Saxon religious poems, especially some of
those by Cynewulf
and his school, express a personal devotional
feeling, none of them can be said to be really lyrical in character or
to have been written primarily for the purpose of exploring personal
emotion. Neither the heroic nor the religious poetry of the Anglo-Saxon
tends toward the lyric, and though a
note of somber elegy is sometimes
struck, it is rarely developed for its own sake. There is, however, a
group of Anglo-Saxon poems in which a mood of lyrical elegy
predominates, and these stand somewhat apart from the poetry we have
already discussed. Of these The
Wanderer and The Seafarer
are the most similar to each other. The
Wandereris the lament of a solitary man who had once been
happy in the service of a loved lord but who now, long after his lord's
death and the passing away of that earlier time of happiness and
friendship, has become a wanderer journeying in the paths of exile
across the icy sea. The poem ends with some conventional moralizing,
but the main part of the elegy is an impressive lament for departed
joys, done with a plangent tone of reminiscence and an effective use of
the ubi sunt? theme—"where
are the snows of yesteryear?"—that was to become such a favorite in
medieval literature. The Seafarer,
which has the same melancholy tone, the same mingling of regret and
self-pity, is the monologue of an old sailor who recalls the loneliness
and hardships of a life at sea while at the same time aware of its
fascination. Some critics take it to be a dialogue, in which the old
sailor urges the hardships of the seafaring life against the argument
of an eager young man anxious to take to the sea and attracted by the
difficulties, and the poem can indeed be read in this way; but the
fluctuating moods of the poem seem more impressive if taken as the
alternation of weariness and fascination in the same person. Whichever
way we read it, however, it is the elegiac element that stands out
from among the sometimes obscure sequence of moods, which ends, like The Wanderer, with a conventional
religious sentiment. The date of both these poems is uncertain: they
may be almost as old as Beowulf.
Both are found in the Exeter Book.
Another poem in the Exeter Book, which is generally given the title of The Wife's Lament, can also be
considered as belonging to this group of elegiac monologues. It is
difficult to follow the precise situation the speaker is describing,
but apparently the wife has been separated from her husband and forced
to dwell in a cave in the forest by the plottings of his kinsmen. In
spate of the comparative obscurity of the situation, the central
emotion comes through strongly, and the note of personal passion—the
love and longing for the absent husband, the curse on the enemy
responsible for her present plight—rings out with remarkable clarity.
Similar in many ways to this poem is The
Husband's Message. Here the speaker is the piece of wood on
which the letter is carved: it first tells the wife its own life story
and then goes on to speak the message now carved on it. The husband
reminds the wife of her earlier vows, tells her that he has been driven
from her by a feud, and bids her join him across the sea. Wulf and Eadwacer is another
dramatic monologue, existing only in a fragment of nineteen lines in
the Exeter Book, which, for all the obscurity of the situation
described, expresses and intense romantic passion in a way quite
uncharacteristic of Anglo-Saxon poetry as it has come down to us. Wulf
is the woman's outlawed lover and Eadwacer her hated husband, or at
least the man with whom, against her will, she is forced to live. The
passionate cry of
Wulf, wena me þine
seoce gedydon, þine seldcymas
murnende mod, nales meteliste—
Wulf, my Wulf, my longings for thee
Have made me sick, thy rare visits,
It was my sorrowful heart, not want of food—
might be Iseult calling for Tristan as conceived by some
nineteenth-century romantic poet. The
Wife's Lament, The Husband's Message, and Wulf and Eadwacer
represent all we have of Anglo-Saxon love poetry. They have not been
tampered with by cleric anxious to give a moral and religious twist to
the end, but have survived in all the intensity of their original
utterance. How many poems in a similar style may have been lost it is
impossible to tell, nor is it easy to see for what kind of an audience
this kind of poetry was written. We know to what taste the Anglo-Saxon
heroic poet catered, and we can understand the appeal of the religious
poetry of the age; but these passionate renderings of personal emotion,
devoid of either heroic atmosphere or religious teaching, must have
appealed to a taste one is not accustomed to thinking of as at all
prevalent in the Anglo-Saxon period of English culture.
There is one other interesting Anglo-Saxon poem with an elegiac tone;
it is a description of a ruined city (perhaps Bath) in about fifty
lines, found in the Exeter Book. It is a sad picture of desolation and
decay set against an account of the earlier prosperity of the place,
and, though the text is imperfect, the sense of passionate regret at
the passing away of what was once lively and beautiful is conveyed with
impressive eloquence. No clerical improve has tagged a religious moral
on to it (or, if he has, it has not survived in the incomplete version
which alone is extant) and the mood is somberly fatalistic. The Ruin is not incompatible in
feeling with much of Beowulf,
which has its own stern sense of fate, and we can see from it how in
Anglo-Saxon poetry one kind of elegiac mood was the reverse of the
medal whose obverse was heroic.
The Exeter book contains nearly a hundred Anglo-Saxon riddles, some of
which seem to have been translated from Latin originals composed in
England by clerics of the seventh and eighth century and some derived
from the fourth- to fifth- century Latin writer Symphosius. This from
of literary amusement has little appeal for the modern reader, though
many of The Riddles—which are
in regular Anglo-Saxon verse form—show considerable literary skill, particularly
in descriptive passages.
Their chief interest today lies in the incidental glimpses they give us
of the daily life of Anglo-Saxon England and the folk beliefs of the
time. Similarly, the so-called "Gnomic Verses," some of which are also
in the Exeter Book, and some in a British museum manuscript, with their
generalizations about morals and experience and the properties of
objects encountered in daily living, are of interest to the social
historian as the only group of existing Anglo-Saxon poems which are not
on the whole aristocratic in origin; they reflect the manners and
opinions of the peasantry of the period.
Toward the end of the Anglo-Saxon period the old heroic note, so long
unheard, re-emerges finely in two poems dealing with contemporary
history. The Battle of Brunanburh
appears in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicleunder
the date 937: it celebrates the victory of Aethelstan of Wessex
and Eadmund, his brother, against the combined forces of Olaf the
Norseman, Constantine, king of Scots, and the Britons of Strathclyde.
There is an important difference, however, between the heroic tone of
this poem and that of the older Anglo-Saxon poetry. In the older heroic
poetry, emphasis was laid on the individual hero, and his national
origins were of little importance—he was one of the heroes of Germania
and as such claimed the admiration of all the germanic peoples without
any national prejudice. But The
Battle of Brunanburh
shows strong patriotic sentiment. The victory is regarded as a victory
of the English forces against Norse, Scots, and Welsh enemies, and
though the heroism of Æthelstan and Eadmund is celebrated, the two
princes appear not as heroes in their own right so much as champions of
their nation. The Battle of Maldon appears
in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle
under the date 991. It deals in the older epic manner with one of the
many clashes between English and Danes that resulted from the latter's
attacks on England, which culminated in the conquest of the country by
Cnut (Canute) in 1012. The older heroic poems did not, of course, deal
with historical events that had only just occurred, nor, as we have
noted, did they show any trace of national patriotic feeling. Yet The Battle of Maldon
is remarkably similar in spirit to the older heroic poetry. It is the
story of a disastrous English defeat: Byrhtnoth, ealdorman of Essex,
who led the English forces, fought and died in a recklessly courageous
attempt to stem the Danes. The poem contains nine speeches, mostly of
exhortation and encouragement to the English forces, delivered by seven
different speakers; many of the English warriors are mentioned by name
(though not one of the Danes is so singled out); the passionate loyalty
of retainers to their chief is eloquently presented; and the tone of
desperate courage against hopeless odds becomes more and more intense
as the poem proceeds, to culminate after the death of Byrhtnoth in the
final words of his old retainer Byrhtwold.
Hige sceal þe heardra, heorte þe cenre,
mod sceal þe mare, þe ure mægen lytlað.
Her lið ure ealdor eall forheawen,
god on greote; a mæg gnornian
seðe nu fram þis wigplegan wendan þenceð,
Ic eom frod feores; fram ic ne wille,
ac ic me be healfe minum hlaforde,
be swa leofan men, licgan þence.
Thought shall be the harder, heart the keener,
Courage shall be the more, as our might lessens.
Here lies our lord, all hewn down,
The good man in the dust; ever may he lament
Who now from this war-play thinks to turn.
I am old in years; from here I will not go,
But I by the side of my lord,
By the man so dear, purpose to lie.
And, in this high strain, Anglo-Saxon heroic poetry comes to an end.
From The Oxford Companion to English Literature, ed. Margaret Drabble.
HERBERT of Cherbury, Edward, Lord (1582-1648), elder brother of G. *Herbert, born at Eyton-on-Severn, Shropshire, into one of the foremost families of the Welsh border. In 1596, aged 14, he was enrolled as gentleman commoner at University College, Oxford. That year his father died, and Herbert became ward of Sir George Moore (later *Donne's father-in-law). At 16 he was married to his cousin Mary, daughter of Sir William Herbert of St Julians, five years Edward's senior and heiress to her father's estates in England, Wales and Ireland. By the time he was 21 the couple had had, he reports, 'divers children', of whom none survived him. He was created Knight of the Bath in 1603. His adventures are recounted by Herbert in his Life, a remarkable document, not least for its unabashed presentation of its author's martial valour, success with women, truthfulness, sweetness of breath, and other virtues. Herbert aspired to a career in public service and spent much of the time from 1608 to 1618 in France, getting to know the French aristocracy and court. He also travelled in Italy and the Low Countries, fighting at the siege of Juliers (1610).
In 1619 he became ambassador to France, on *Buckingham's recommendation. His most famous philosophical work, De Veritate, was published in Paris in 1624. He was recalled to London in 1624, where he unsuccessfully petitioned for high office. Although he joined Charles's council of war in 1629, becoming Baron Herbert of Cherbury, recognition still eluded him. To attract royal notice he wrote, in 1630, The Expedition to the Isle of Rhé, which tries to justify Buckingham's calamitous generalship, and in 1632 he began a detailed 'official' history of *Henry VIII's reign, assisted by Thomas Masters, which was published in 1649. At the outbreak of the Civil War he retired to Montgomery Castle and declined to become involved. The castle was threatened by Royalists in 1644, and he admitted a parliamentary garrison, under Sir Thomas Myddleton, in exchange for the return of his books, which had been seized. He moved to his London house in Queen Street, St Giles, and dedicated himself to philosophy, supplementing his De Veritate with De Causis Errorum and De Religione Laici, both published in 1645, and writing besides De Religione Gentilium and his autobiography (begun in 1643). In 1647 he visited Gassendi in Paris.
Herbert's De Veritate postulates that religion is common to all men and that, stripped of superfluous priestly accretions, it can be reduced to five universal innate ideas: that there is a God; that he should be worshipped; that virtue and piety are essential to worship; that man should repent of his sins; and that there are rewards and punishments after this life. It gained Herbert the title of father of English *Deism. It was widely read in the 17th cent., earning the attention and disagreement of Mersenne, Gassendi, *Descartes, and *Locke. Herbert also wrote poetry which is obscure and metrically contorted, evidently influence by his friend Donne, but he also wrote some tender and musical love lyrics. (See also METAPHYSICAL POETS.)
Life, ed. S. Lee (1886, rev. 1906), and ed. J. M. Shuttleworth (1976); Poems English and Latin, ed. G. C. Moore Smith (1923); De Veritate, ed. and trans. M. H. Carré (1937); De Religione Laici, ed. and trans. H. R. Hutcheson (1944); R. D. Bedford, The Defence of Truth (1979).
From The Oxford Companion to English Literature, ed. Margaret Drabble:
Herbert, George (1593-1633), fifth son of Sir Richard and Magdalen Herbert and younger brother of Lord *Herbert of Cherbury, born in Montgomery into a prominent family. His father died when he was 3, and in 1608 his mother, the patron of Donne, remarried Sir John Danvers, who was 20 years her junior. Educated at Westminster School where he was named king's scholar, and Trinity College, Cambridge, George published his first poems (two sets of memorial verses in Latin) in a volume mourning Prince Henry's death in 1612. But he had already, according to his earliest biographer, I. *Walton, sent his mother at the start of 1610 a New Year's letter dedicating his poetic powers to God and enclosing two sonnets ('My God, where is that ancient heat towards thee?' and 'Sure, Lord, there is enough in thee to dry'). In 1616 he was elected a major fellow of Trinity, and in 1618 appointed reader in rhetoric. In 1620 he became public orator at the university (holding this distinguished position until his resignation in 1627). He seems at this period to have been rather pushing, keen on making the acquaintance of the great and conscious of his distinction of birth. F. *Bacon and Donne were among his friends, and the public oratorship introduced him to men of influence at court. Although he was obliged, by the terms of his fellowship, to take orders within seven years, he seems to have gravitated towards a secular career, leaving his university duties to be performed by proxies. In 1624, and again in 1625, he represented Montgomery in Parliament. This fairly brief experience of worldly ambition seems, however, to have disillusioned him. He was ordained deacon, probably before the end of 1624, and installed in 1626 as a canon of Lincoln Cathedral and prebendary of Leighton Bromswold in Huntingdonshire, near *Little Gidding, where *Ferrar, whom Herbert had known at Cambridge, had recently established a religious community. Once installed, Herbert set about restoring the ruined church at Leighton. His mother died in 1627, and his Memoriae Matris Sacrum waas published in the volume containing Donne's commemoration sermon. In March 1629 Herbert married his stepfather's cousin, Jane Danvers, and they adopted two orphaned nieces of Herbert's. He became rector of Bemerton, near Salisbury, in April 1630, being ordained priest the following September. In his short priesthood he gained a reputation for humility, energy, and charity. He was also a keen musician, and would go twice a week to hear the singing in Salisbury Cathedral which was, he said, 'Heaven upon earth'. He died of consumption shortly before his 40th birthday. When he realized he was dying he sent his English poems to his friend Ferrar with instructions to publish them, if he thought they might 'turn to the advantage of any dejected soul', and otherwise to burn them. The Temple, containing nearly all his surviving English poems, was published in 1633. Outlandish Proverbs (a collection of foreign proverbs in translation) in 1640, and Herbert's prose picture of the model country parson, A Priest to the Temple, in 1652, as part of Herbert's Remains. His translation of Luigi Cornaro's Trattato de la vita sobria appeared in 1634, and his 'Brief Notes' on Juan de Valdes's Hundred and Ten Considerations in 1638. He told Ferrar that his poems represented 'a picture of the many spiritual conflicts that have passed betwixt God and my soul'. They were much admired in the 17th cent. and 13 editions of The Temple came out between 1633 and 1679. In the 18th cent. Herbert went out of fashion, though J. *Wesley adapted some of his poems. The Romantic age saw a revival, and the appreciative note in Coleridge's Biographia Literaria (1817) enhanced Herbert's reputation. Modern critics have noted the subtlety rather than the simplicity of his poems, seeing them as an attempt to express the ultimately ineffable complications of the spiritual life. The precise nature of Herbert's relationship to Calvinism has also generated debate. See Works (ed. F. E. Hutchinson, 1941); Amy M. Charles, Life (1977).
Sobre esta cuestión de la ideología como una construcción
social de la realidad debería habar citado a Berger y Luckmann. Bueno,
aquí los cito: ¿Quién
define la realidad? —para quien no los conozca, Berger y Luckmann
son lectura más esencial todavía que el Evangelio de Judas.
Ecocriticism and Narrative Theory: Essays at a Critical Confluence
We seek submissions for a volume that asks what
connections exist between material environments and narrative forms of
understanding. Scholars are increasingly drawing our attention to the
importance of the stories we tell each other about
the environment, such that narratives have become an implicit
touchstone for the emerging field of the environmental humanities. This
work positions narratives as important occasions and repositories for
the values, political and religious ideas, and sets
of behaviors that determine how we perceive and interact with our
ecological homes. Changing the way we interact with the environment,
scholars such as Val Plumwood and Ursula Heise suggest, requires new
stories about the world in which we live.
Yet despite this connection, scholarship that puts into dialogue two of the relevant
schools of literary criticism—narrative theory and ecocriticism—is
scant. Despite the fact that both of these approaches to the study
of literature and culture are well established, they appear to have
said little to one another; Narrative, the flagship journal of narrative theory, has never featured a special issue focusing on the environment in narratives, and ISLE,
journal of ecocriticism, has never featured a special issue exploring
the role that narrative structures play in representations of the
environment. After organizing well-attended and generative panels on
possible intersections at the Association for the Study
of Literature and the Environment (ASLE) 2013 and the International
Society for the Study of Narrative (ISSN) 2014, the co-editors for this
volume feel confident that interest abounds for a collection that
bridges the work done by scholars in these subfields
of literary study.
If these conversations remain in their infancy, is
not because the two approaches lack overlapping interests. On the
contrary, opportunities for cross-pollination abound. The vocabulary
developed by narratologists could benefit certain
ecocritical studies, especially in helping ecocritical scholars better
account for the formal aspects of representations of environment in
various types of narratives (novels, short stories, films, etc).
Ecocritical insights could help to broaden narrative
theory, particularly in strengthening the connection between text and
extratextual world of interest to many postclassical narratologists and
expanding the repertoire of questions narrative theorists ask of
narratives. Also, both of these approaches have complicated
the disciplinary or methodological line(s) between science and
humanistic inquiry; can they learn from one another’s attempts? More
broadly, how might an approach to reading that combines ecocritical and
narratological lenses sophisticate the way we think
about narratives within the environmental humanities? What new insights
might ecocritical and narratological lenses provide to conversations
within the environmental humanities? The co-editors are confident that
both approaches can learn from the other but
feel this multi-voiced collection would give momentum to questions of
Possible topics under consideration in this collection include but are not limited to:
-Access to nature alongside/versus access to narrative
-Animals as characters
-Evolutionary approaches to narrative/“evocriticism”
-Gendered/ecofeminist approaches to narrating natural experience
-Heteroglossia and the natural sciences
-Lyric narrative and forms of nature writing
-Mimesis and diegesis
-Narration, expectation, and natural experience
-Narrative and/as environmental rhetoric
-Narrative and ecocentrism
-Narrative and/of space or place
-Narrative as mediator of natural events (journalism, nature, and narrative)
-“Natural” and “Unnatural” narrative
-Natural disaster as plot device, deus ex machina
-New environmental narratives
-Pathetic fallacy as narratorial strategy
-Person and narration (first, third; omniscient, restricted) and nonhuman narrators and focalizers
-Referentiality and political context
-Role of nature in indigenous forms of narrative
-Spatialization and temporality in narrative
-Storyworlds as virtual environments
Please submit a 250-300 word abstract of your proposed chapter contribution and a short bio-blurb by e-mail to Erin James (firstname.lastname@example.org) and Eric Morel (email@example.com)
by January 15, 2015. Also include the working title of your chapter, 3–5 keywords, and the names and contact details for all authors.
Final chapters of 6,000 – 7,000 words will be due September 30, 2015.
Aquí reencuentro mi bibliografía sobre el auto- —sobre el
autoconocimiento, autocontrol, autoengaño, etc. etc. Sobre automóviles
también debo tener alguna. Pero si lo que buscan es una bibliografía
sobre el self en el sentido
de el yo personal, el sujeto que somos, etc., también está aquí, en mi Bibliografía
de Teoría Literaria, Crítica, y Filología. ¿Y qué hace ahí?
Es que hay quien dice que somos mucha literatura—y poca autocrítica.
From the chapter on "Anglo-Saxon Literature" in David
Daiches's Critical History of
In the same manuscript that contains the two Genesis poems, Exodus and Daniel, there is found also an
untitled religious poem which is now generally called Christ and Satan. This shows an
Anglo-Saxon poet working not directly from biblical sources but from a
variety of Christian traditions. Here we get a picture of Satan in Hell
which represents him not as the
defiant spirit of Genesis B
but as a lost soul lamenting bitterly his exclusion from the joys of
Heaven. He is given several speeches, each with considerable elegiac
eloquence; the author is clearly concerned to emphasize the difference
between Heaven and Hell and the different results of following Christ
and following Satan. The latter part of the poem concentrates on
Christ, though at the very end, after an account of Satan's temptation
of Christ in the wilderness, we return to Satan in his frustration.
Christ and Satan seems
to have been influenced by the school of Cynewulf, a poet who may have
flourished early in the ninth century and who is the first Anglo-Saxon
poet to sign his work (by means of runic letters woven into the poem).
Four of Cynewulf's poems are extant, all showing a more self-conscious
craftsmanship than is found in the Caedmonian poems and suggesting in
style and structure the influence of classical models. The heroic
strain, so successfully transplanted from the older poetry in such a
poem as Exodus, is lacking in
Cynewulf, and in its place we find a more meditative and contemplative
tone. The four Anglo-Saxon Christian poems which have the name of
Cynewulf worked into them in acrostic form are Christ, Juliana, Elene, and The Fates of the Apostles. All
these poems possess both a high degree of literary craftsmanship and a
note of mystical contemplation which sometimes rises to a high level of
religious passion. The story of Christ as told in the poem of that
title draws on a variety of ecclesiastical and patristic sources, but
it handles its subject—the Advent, the Ascension, and the Last Judgment
(5) —with an intensity all its own. The dialogue between Mary and
Joseph in the first part, brief though it is, shows a real feeling for
the dramatic situation, and is, besides, the earliest extant dramatic
passage in English literature. Juliana
is a more conventional work, a typical saint's life, following its
Latin prose source without any significant deviation, while Elene is the story of the discovery
of the true cross by St. Helena, mother of Constantine, told with a
keen sense of the wonder of it all and a relish for the romantic
suggestions of distant scenes and places. The Fates of the Apostles is a
short poem of one hundred and twenty-two lines (and may be the
concluding part of Andreas,
which it follows in the manuscript: if so, then Andreas,too, is by Cynewulf, for The Fates of the Apostles contains
the runic signature). The author is here meditating on the adventures
of the various apostles after they dispersed to spread the Gospel, but
its interest for the modern reader lies largely in the personal
passages. Its opening shows an interesting mutation of the heroic into
the personal elegiac strain: "Lo, weary of wandering, sad in spirit, I
made this song, gathered it from far and wide, of how the bright and
glorious heroes showed forth their courage."
With Cynewulf, Anglo-Saxon religious poetry moves beyond biblical
paraphrase into the didactic, the devotional, and the mystical. These
qualities are also exhibited by many of the religious poems which seem
to have been written under his influence. The most remarkable of these
is The Dream of the Rood,
fragments of which are to be found inscribed in runic letters on the
Ruthwell Cross in Dumfriesshire, Scotland (probably an early eighth
century version, pre-Cynewulf), while the complete poem exists in the
Vercelli Book, in a much later version (probably late ninth century).
The tone of the complete version as we have it suggests that the
earlier version had been afterward adapted by a poet of the school of
Cynewulf, perhaps even by Cynewulf himself. It is the oldest surviving
English poem in the form of a dream or vision—a form which was later to
be used for such a variety of purposes. The dreamer tells how he saw a
vision of the bright cross, brilliantly adorned with gems, and goes on
to tell the speech that he heard it utter. The speech of the cross, in
which it tells of its origin in the forest, its removal to be made into
a cross for "The Master of mankind," its horror at the role it had to
play but its determination to stand fast because that was God's
command, the suffering of "the young Hero" who ascends the cross
resolutely in order to redeem mankind—all this is done in verse charged
with a simple eloquence and sustaining a high note of religious passion
and wonder. The speech ends with an exhortation to each soul to "seek
through the cross the kingdom which is far from earth," and the poem
then concludes with the dreamer's account of his own religious hopes.
Other poems associated with the school of Cynewulf are Andreas,
which tells of the adventures, sufferings, and evangelical successes of
St. Andrew, with deliberate emphasis on the wonderful and the
picturesque, and a perhaps excessive exploitation of the rhetorical
devices of Anglo-Saxon poetry (the source of the poem is a Latin
rendering of the apocryphal Greek Acts of Andrew and Matthew); two poems on the life of the English hermit St. Guthlac; The Phoenix, of which the first part, deriving from the Latin poem De Ave Phoenice,
attributed to Lactantius, describes an earthly paradise in the East,
the beauty of the phoenix, its flight to Syria after it has lived for a
thousand years to build its nest, die, and be reborn, while the second
half takes the phoenix as an allegory both of the life of the virtuous
in this world and the next and as a symbol of Christ; and following The Phoenix in the Exeter Book—a poem entitled Physiologus or Bestiary
which belongs to the popular medieval literary form of beast
allegories, where real or (more often) imaginary qualities of animals
are given a moral application. Physiologus,
which derives ultimately from a Greek original, is incomplete, and
deals with the panther, the whale and, incompletely, the partridge. It
has the same lushness of descriptive style that is found in The Phoenix,
and its natural history is equally fabulous. The whale is given the
charming name of Fastitocalon—a corruption of Aspidochelone, originally
applied to the turtle.
Finally, there falls to be mentioned among significant Anglo-Saxon religious poems the fragmentary Judith, of which only the concluding sections survive, in the same manuscript that contains Beowulf.
The poem is a version of the Vulgate text of the apocryphal book of
Judith, and the extant portion tells in vigorous and rapidly moving
verse of Judith's beheading of the drunken Holofernes after his
confident feasting, her rallying of the Hebrews to attack the
Assyrians, the consternation of the Assyrians on discovering
Holofernes' headless body, the rout of the Assyrians by the Hebrews,
Judith's triumph and praise to God. Judith
possesses a fierce energy in describing the death of Holofernes and the
defeat of the Assyrians, a note of positive jubilation, which is quite
different from anything in the older heroic poetry. In fluidity of
movement the verse form shows itself to be fairly late, and the poem
may date from the end of the ninth century or possibly even later.
(5). Some scholars maintain that only the second part, to which they
give the title of The Ascension
(or Christ B) is by Cynewulf,
for only this part contains Cynewulf's name in runic characters. The
other two parts they consider to be seaparate poems, giving one the
title of The Advent (or Natitivy, or Christ A) and the other the title
of Doomsday C (or Christ C), grouping it together
with two other poems on the Last Judgment which they call Doomsday A and Doomsday B respectively.
From The Princeton Encyclopedia of Poetry and Poetics:
GENRE. The term "genre"is often used interchangeably with "type," "kind," and "form." Western theory on the subject of whether works of literature can be classified into distinct kinds appears at the beginning of literary study and has sustained active controversies in every stage of literary history. Alternately extolled and condemned, praised for its potential for order and ingnored as, finally, irrelevant, the concept takes its tone, in every age, from the particular theory that surrounds it. Theorists approached it prescriptively until about the end of the 18th century, descriptively thereafter; and it retains its viability (if not always its honor) through the plethora of modern comments about the nature of possibilities of literature. But built into its ways of working are difficulties that have ultimately to do with a version of the hermeneutic circle: how can we choose specific works to draw a definition of, say, epic (q.v.) unless we already know what an epic is? Though answered in various ways, the question continues to insinuate itself.
Classical poetics (q.v.) had no systematic theory about the concept of genre. What thinking there is at the beginning of western poetics originates from a distinction made by Plato between two possible modes of reproducing an object or person: (1) by description (i.e. by portraying it by means of words) or (2) by mimicry or impersonation (i.e. by imitating it). Since poetry according to the mimetic theory (see IMITATION; REPRESENTATION AND MIMESIS; POETRY, THEORIES OF) was conceived as such a reproduction of external objects, these two modes became the main division of poetry: dramatic poetry (q.v.) or the theatre was direct imitation or miming of persons, and narrative poetry (q.v.) or the epic was the portrayal of descriptions of human actions.
But since this simple division obviously left out too much, a third division was inserted between the two others (Republic 3.392-94): the so-called mixed mode, in which narrative alternates with dialogue (q.v.), as is usually the case in epic poetry (which is rarely pure narrative). But no new principle of classification was thereby introduced, so no room was left for the genre of self-expression or the lyric (q.v.), in whicvh the poet expresses directly her or his own thoughts or feelings. The extensive use of Homer as a model gave clear if implicit preference to the epic, a point echoed in Laws, which comments effectually mark the beginning of the hierarchy of genres. The classification is as much moral as it is literary. Plato says subsequently that the guardians should imitate only the most suitable characters (395) but that there are impersonators who will imitate anything (397).
Prior to Plato, during the Attic age, we find a wide variety of terms for specific genres: the epic or recited poetry; the drama or acted poetry, subdivided into tragedy and comedy (qq.v.); then iambic or satirical poetry, so called because written in iambic meter (see IAMBIC; INVECTIVE; CHOLIAMBUS); and elegiac poetry (see ELEGY), also written in a distinctive meter, the elegiac couplet (see ELEGIAC DISTYCH), with its offshoots the epitaph and the epigram (qq.v.), all classed together because composed in the same meter. Then there was choral or melic poetry (q.v.), as it was later called, poetry sung by a chorus to the accompaniment of a flute or stringed instrument. Melic poverty comes closest to our concept of the lyric, but it is not divorced from music and it excludes what we consider the essentially lyric genres of the elegy and epigram. In addition, there was the hymn (q.v.), the dirge (q.v.) or threnos,and the dithyram (q.v.), a composition in honor of Dionysius which could be anything from a hymn to a miniature play. Songs of triumph or of celebration included the paean, the encomium, the epinikion, and the epithalamium (qq.v.) There was certainly plenty of material in Greek poetry to make up a concept of lyric poetry, but the early Greeks apparently contented themselves with classifying by such criteria as metrical form.
The purely extrinsic scheme used for the nonce by Plato is taken up by Aristotle in Poetics ch. 3, where it becomes the foundation of his main classification of poetic genres. Aristotle gives no express recognition of the lyric there, much less in his statement that in the second of these genres the poet "speaks in his own person": that is merely Aristotle's way of saying that the narrative is the poet's own discourse and not a speech by a fictitious character of drama. So the traditional tripartite division of poetic genres or kinds into epic, dramatic, and lyric, far from being a "natural" division first discovered by the Greek genius, is not to be found in either Plato or Aristotle. It was, rather, the result of a long and tedious process of compilation or adjustment, through the repetition with slight variations of certain traditional lists of poetic genres, which did not reach the modern formula of the three divisions until the 16th century.
Nevertheless, Aristotle's classifications of kind in the Poetics make him the source and arbiter of genre study (though often at only second or even third hand, and frequently warped) for nearly two millennia. Like Plato, Aristotle argues that poetry is a species of imitation. The medium of imitation concerns the instrumentality through which the various kinds are presented. The object of imitation, men in action, has both contentual and moral aspects, tragedy and comedy dealing with men as better or worse than they are; but the package is not nearly so neat because Cleophon, though a tragic poet, represents a middle way, men as they are—a significant point which shows how Aristotle's examples can complicate the issue appropriately. On the manner of imitation, Aristotle continues the general Platonic divisions according to the status of the speaker.
All of this supports the view that Aristotle is arguably the first formalist, the first exponent of organic unity (see ORGANICISM); for him, mode, object, and manner, working together, not only make for the "character" of the kind but affect (and effect) all that each aspect does and is. Yet he is a formalist and a good deal more, for his connection of genre with tone and moral stance led not only to later quarrels about decorum (q.v.) and mixed modes but also, and more profitably, about the ways in which texts seek to conceive and appropriate tha world—that is, the difficult business of representation, including his implicit debate with Plato over its possibilities and value.
After Aristotle, it was Alexandrian scholarship that undertook the first comprehensive stock-taking of Greek poetry and began the process of grouping, grading, and classifying genres. Lists or "canons" of the best writers of each kind were made, which led to a sharper awareness of genre. The first extant grammarian to mention the lyric as a genre was Dionysius Thrax (2d c. B.C.), in a list which comprises, in all, the following: "Tragedy, Comedy, Elegy, Epos, Lyric, and Threnos," lyric meaning for him, still, poetry sung to the lyre. In Alexandrian literature, other genres were added to the list, especially the idyll and pastoral (qq.v.).
The Greek conceptions of genre were themselves radically generic in the sense of putting the issues in their elemental forms. What followed—adulation, elaboration, correction, rejection—built on those ways of working. Yet it was clear to later Classicism (q.v.) that these treatises needded supplementary detail, their nearly exclusive emphases on epic and tragedy being insufficient to cover the complex topography of genre. Futher, with the model of the Greeks so potent that there was no thought of undoing their principles, it seemed best not only to elaborate but to clarify and purify, to establish principles of tact which were not only matters of taste (q.v.) but, ultimately, of the appropriate. The Middle Ages, and later, the 17th c., was a time for codification, which could slip easily into rules (q.v.). Quintilian's Institutio oratoria argued for such practices, but most important was Horace's Ars poetica (a name given by Quintilian to the Epistula ad Pisones), a text of extraordinary influence bevcause so many later students read the Greeks through Horace's letter (see CLASSICAL POETICS). The attitudes of Horace were often taken as the classical ways.
Party of the irony is that his letter is not particularly original: its outstanding contribution is the principle of decorum. Aristotle had referred to the interrelation of style with theme, but in Horace this combined with the demands of urbanity and propriety to become the principal emphasis. Tragedy does not babble light verses. Plays ought to be in five acts, no more and no less, with all bloodiness offstage. Plunge into epics in medias res (q.v.), but echo the categories of the strong predecessors either by telling those events or have them acted out. At this distance, Horace comes through mainly as the exponent of a set of mind, one who shourely had much to do with later equations of social and literary decorum. Given his emphasis on "the labor of the file," he is probably best seen as the ultimate craftsman, completer of the Classical triumvirate on which genre study built for most of the rest of Western literary history.
Schlolars are generally agreed that the Middle Ages offered little if any commentary of permanent value on the theory of genre, and they usually cite Dante's remarks in De vulgari eloquentia (ca. 1305) as the major points of interest. In fact though, Dante's account shows a curious transformation of tradition, especially in his insistence that his poem is a comedy because it has a happy ending and is written in a middle style; this sense of "comedy" Dante found in Donatus, De comoedia, and Euanthius, De fabula. Dante argued for a quasi-Horatian decorum of genre and style. In a sense the Commedia culminates medieval mixtures of the grotesque and the sublime (qq.v.), as in the mystery plays (see LITURGICAL DRAMA), but it also suggests, if unwittingly, an undoing of generic norms that was to cause much bitter controversy in subsequent approaches.
As though to counter such implicit subversion, the theorists of the Italian Renaissance focused intensely on genre (see RENAISSANCE POETICS); the rediscovery of the Poetics around 1500 became an impetus to codifications such as had never been conceived even in the most rigorous late Classical formulations. Part of the intensity came from the wide variety of genres and mixed modes such as the prosimetrum (q.v.) practiced in the Middle Ages, leading to the blend of medieval romance (q.v.) and epic in figures such as Ariosto and Tasso. If there were 16th-c. defenders of these "mixed" works—among which tragicomedy (q.v.) was surely the most notorious (Guarini argued in his own defense, but the greatest of the kind were written in England)—there were codifiers such as Scaliger and Castelvetro who had considerable influence well into the 18th century.
Out of these theorists came that ultimate codification, the "unities" of time, place, and action (see UNITY), which was finally put to rest only in the 18th. c. by critics such as Samuel Johnson (see NEOCLASSICAL POETICS). Though they were claimed to have their sources in Aristotle's categories, in fact these arguments distorted Aristotle and carried Horatian conservatism to reactionary lengths. French Neoclassicism continued the codification, quite brilliantly in Boileau's Art poétique, more ambivalently in Corneille's Discours, the latter an apologia for his dramatic practice which is, at the same time, an act of support for the unities. Suggestions that Neoclassical generic hierarchies and standards of decorum have sociopolitical and philosophical implications are, for the most part, convincing: the potential analogies among these favorite subjects ensured their mutual support and offer still another instance of the relations of literature and power. Yet as both literature and society worked their way into romanticism (q.v.), most of those hierarchies shifted: in literature the lyric ascended to the top of the hierarchy, signaling the confirmation of the triad of lyric, epic (i.e. narrative), and drama which is set forth by Hegel and still dominates genre theory. Friedrich Schlegel (in his Dialogue on Poetry  and essay on Goethe ) artued for the abolition of generic classifications, which would in efffect eliminate genre. Schlegel and others had in mind the example of Cervantes, expanding the concept of the novel to speak of it as a package that could carry all other genres within itself, e.g. ballads and romances within tales as in Matthew Gregory Lewis's The Monk and, memorably, Poe's Fall of the House of Usher. International romanticism explored such issues routinely. But when 19th-c. Darwinian biology found application to literature, it produced a rigidly evolutionary theory of genre in Brunetière and others., a dead-end whose main value is that it annoyed theorists like Croce, who considered genres as mere abstractions, useful in the construction of classifications for practical convenience, but of no value as aesthetic categories. Thereby it stimulated interest in grenre theory in the 20th century, one of the great ages of speculation on the subject.
Croce became the case against which theorists tested themselves for much of the early 20th century (see EXPRESSION). If genre classifications have a certain convenience, they nevertheless conflict with Croce's conception of the individual work of art as the product of a unique intuition (q.v.). Genre, in this view, has a merely nominalist existence, a position echoed in varying ways by later theorists as significant and different as Jameson and, in one of his moods, the unclassifiable Frye—though the latter set up an elaborate system of classification which all commentators have taken as another way of talking about genre. Todorov's structuralist attack on Frye resulted in a controversial proposal concerning historical and theoretical genres, but Frye remains the most important theorist of the subject since Croce. Scholars like Fowler have argued eloquently for looser, more historically based readings, recognizing the fact of change and the necessity for flexibility, while concepts like intertextuality (q.v.) obviously have much of importance to say about the workings of genre. Formalists of various persuasions have worried about genre in terms of form-content relations (see ORGANICISM). Drawing on the work of Karl Viëtor, Claudio Guillén distinguishes persuasively between universal modes of experience (lyric, epic, drama) and genres proper (tragedy or the sonnet). Other recent theorists argue for the institutional nature of genre for its functions as a series of codes, and (less convincingly) as an element in a langue-parole relationship, while Fowler and others, working out of Frye, stress the significance of the concept of "mode." Still, Jameson's argument that genre theory has been discredited by modern thinking about literature seems now largely convincing. Recognition of the embodiment of literature in the necessary shifting conditions of culture has led a number of theorists to argue that a genre is whatever a particular text or time claims it to be. Skepticism about universals has clearly taken its toll, as have, in other ways, the arguments of Croce. Such skepticism has appeared among contemporary artists as well, e.g. the performance artist Laurie Anderson and the composer-writer-performer John Cage, who pull down all walls of distinction among genres and media as well as what has been called "high art" and "low art" (Here as elsewhere sociocultural elements cannot be separated from other facets of the work.) Terms like "multimedia" and "intermedia" can be complemented by others such as "intergeneric," such practices denying, in varying degree, the validity of absolute distinctions, categories, and hierarchies. Theorizing about genre has not been so vigorous since the 16th century. The suggestiveness of the 20th century's quite variegated work makes it a period of extraordinary achievement in the history of this stubborn, dubious, always controversial concept. For further discussion of mode and genre see VERSE AND PROSE; see also CANON; CONVENTION; FORM; ORGANICISM; RULES.
JOURNAL: Genre 1— (1968-).
STUDIES: F. Brunetière, L'Evolution des genres. 7th ed. (1922); B. Croce, Aesthetic, tr. D. Ainslie, 2nd ed. (1922); J. Petersen, "Zur Lehre von den Dichtungsgattungen," Festschrift Aug. Sauer (1925); K. Viëtor, "Probleme der literarische Gattungsgeschichte," DVLG 9 (1931), "Die Geschichte der literarischen Gattungen," Geist und Form (1952); R. Bray, Des Genres littéraires (1937); K. Burke, "Poetic Categories." Attitudes toward History (1937); I. Behrens, Die Lehre von der Einteilung der Dichtkunst (1940)—best account of development of genre classification in Western literature; J. J. Donohue, The Theory of Literary Kinds, 2 v. (1943-49)—ancient Greek genre classifications; I. Ehrenpreis, The "Types Approach" to Literature. (1945); C. Vincent, Théorie des genres littéraires, 21st ed. (1951); Abrams, chs. 1, 4. 6; E. Olson, "An Outline of Poetic Theory," in Crane; A. E. Harvey, "The Classification of Greek Lyric Poetry." ClassQ n.s. 5 (1955); Wellek and Warren, ch. 17; Frye; Wimsatt and Brooks; Weinberg, ch. 13; C. F. P. Stutterheim, "Prolegomena to a Theory of Literary Genres." ZRL 6 (1964); B. K. Lewalski, Milton's Brief Epic (1966), Paradise Lost and the Rhetoric of Literary Forms (1985), ed., Renaissance Genres (1986); F. Séngle, Die literarische Formenlehre (1967); W. V. Ruttkowski, Die literarischen Gattungen (1968)—bibl. with trilingual indices, Bibliographie der Gattungspoetik (1973); E. Staiger, Grundbegriffe der Poetik (1968), tr. J. C. Hudson and L. T. Frank as Basic Concepts of Poetics (1991); K. R. Scherpe, Gattungspoetik im 18 Jh. (1968); E. Vivas, "Literary Classes: Some Problems," Genre 1 (1968); H.-R. Jauss, "Littérature médiévale et théorie des genres," Poétique 1 (1970); T. Todorov, Introduction à la littérature fantastique (1970); Genres in Discourse (tr. 1990); M. Fubini, Entstehung und Geschichte der literarischen Gattungen (1971); C. Guillén, Literature as System (1971), chs. 4-5; P. Hernadi, Beyond Genre (1972); F. Cairns, Generic Composition in Greek and Roman Literature (1972); R. L. Colie, The Resources of Kind: Genre Theory in the Renaissance (1973); K. W. Hempfer, Gattungstheorie (1973); R. Cohen, "On the Interrelations of 18th-c. Literary Forms," and R. W. Rader, "The Concept of Genre and 18th-C. Studies," New Approaches to 18th-C. Literature, ed. P. Harth (1974); A. Jolles, Einfache Formen, 5th ed. (1974); G. W. F. Hegel, Aesthetics, tr. T. M. Knox (1975); G. Genette, "Genres, 'types,' modes," Poétique 32 (1977); K. Müller-Dyes, Literarische Gattungen (1978); "Theories of Literary Genre," ed. J. Strelka, special issue of YCC 8 (1978); Special Issue on Genre, Glyph 7 (1980); Special Issue on Genre Theory, Poetics 10, 2-3 (1981); F. Jameson, The Political Unconscious (1981); Fowler—the major modern study; H. Dubrow, Genre (1982); W. E. Rogers, The Three Genres and the Interpretation of Lyric (1983); B. J. Bond, Literary Transvaluation from Vergilian Epic to Shakespearean Tragicomedy (1984); Canons, ed. R. von Hallberg (1984); Discourse and Literature: New Appproaches to the Analysis of Literary Genres, ed. T. A. van Dijk (1984); T. G. Rosenmeyer, "Ancient Literary Genres: A Mirage?" YCGL 34 (1985); Postmodern Genres, ed. M. Perloff (1989).