Eucharist and the Poetic Imagination in Early Modern England (Ideas in Context)
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The Reformation changed forever how the sacrament of the Eucharist was understood. This study of six canonical early modern lyric poets traces the literary afterlife of what was one of the greatest doctrinal shifts in English history. Sophie Read argues that the move from a literal to a figurative understanding of the phrase 'this is my body' exerted a powerful imaginative pull on successive generations. To illustrate this, she examines in detail the work of Southwell, Donne, Herbert, Crashaw, Vaughan and Milton, who between them represent a broad range of doctrinal and confessional positions, from the Jesuit Southwell to Milton's heterodox Puritanism. Individually, each chapter examines how Eucharistic ideas are expressed through a particular rhetorical trope; together, they illuminate the continued importance of the Eucharist's transformation well into the seventeenth century - not simply as a matter of doctrine, but as a rhetorical and poetic mode.
of the changes, see Stone, History of the Eucharist, p. 321; for the fortunes of the Prayer Book during the Interregnum and on Charles II’s accession, see Cuming, History of Anglican Liturgy, pp. 146–67. Gerrish, Grace and Gratitude, p. 167. 30 Introduction this cultural revolution, Gerrish misjudges its effect: what may have been cause for alarm for divinity was, on the contrary, cause for excitement for poetry and art; the central place that ritual had held in the religious life of the
poetic achievement, though he was to live for another forty years after writing them. For both men, the republican Interregnum, with its hostile anti-Laudian policies, constituted an absence which compounded a deeper absence. The loss of the rites and ceremonies of their church was a blow, but underlying both Crashaw’s move to Catholicism and Vaughan’s nostalgic adherence to Anglicanism was a longing for a more securely sacramental mode of worship: an assurance of grace, and of Christ’s presence
be seen to dissolve. The series is published with the support of the Exxon Foundation. A list of books in the series will be found at the end of the volume. EUCHARIST AND THE POETIC IMAGINATION IN EARLY MODERN ENGLAND SOPHIE READ cambridge university press Cambridge, New York, Melbourne, Madrid, Cape Town, Singapore, São Paulo, Delhi, Mexico City Cambridge University Press The Edinburgh Building, Cambridge cb2 8ru, UK Published in the United States of America by Cambridge University Press,
89–117 (pp. 116). Shami, ‘Troping Religious Identity’, pp. 109, 91. Transubstantiating transubstantiation 97 truest sense of sacrament was always physical. Donne’s conversions, from Catholicism to Protestantism, and from eros to agape, left him a thoroughly Janus-faced poet; for a brief space in both personal and cultural history, he made it possible for eucharistic tropes to express without heresy or blasphemy the deepest concerns of the emotional life. chapter 3 Herbert and metanoia
deﬁnition, but with an extension and reﬁnement of possibility suggested by Kenneth Burke, the twentieth-century American critic. ‘We might say’, he says, ‘that representation (synecdoche) stresses a relationship or connectedness between two sides of an equation, a connectedness that, like a road, stretches in either direction.’12 It is this idea of connection which is so enduringly important to Vaughan: of the child to the man, of the man to God, of the Old Testament to the New, of a book to its