Sacramental Conversation: The Poetry of Coleridge and Hopkins

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Title: Sacramental Conversation: The Poetry of Coleridge and Hopkins
Author: Morris, Gabriel Stephen
Advisors: Antony Harrison, Committee Chair
John Morillo, Committee Member
Robert Young, Committee Member
Abstract: While much scholarship has considered the theological and metaphysical foundations of Samuel Taylor Coleridge's and Gerard Manley Hopkins' poetry, this study seeks to add to the conversation by examining how a conversational mode of meditation unique to Christian sacrament inspires that poetry. Both Coleridge and Hopkins demonstrate an understanding of Christian sacrament that emphasizes engagement and encounter with God through language and creation; in turn, they create a poetry that uses all aspects of the form -- musical sound yoked to philosophical sense -- to record and reenact this sacramental encounter. Chapter 1 discusses how Coleridge, beginning from the Idealism of George Berkeley, counters Berkeley's passive, non-sacramental reading of nature with a theory of active engagement with nature, man, and God. We see how this theory issues in the "conversation poems," a set of meditations that enact the sacramental interchange that results from the poet's awareness of God's presence in the fullness of creation. Chapter 2 considers how Hopkins steps beyond the subtle machinations of Scotist theology to the meditative engagement of Ignatius Loyola's Spiritual Exercises. Encouraged by Ignatius' emphasis on detail and particularity, Hopkins creates a poetic practice that uses the music of words to their fullest sacramental potential, demonstrating in poetry how man encounters God through active engagement with the world and takes on the image of Christ through sacrament.
Date: 2004-05-12
Degree: MA
Discipline: English

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