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Hindered Rubies: Faith and Incarnation in the Poetry of Emily Dickinson

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Hindered Rubies: Faith and Incarnation in the Poetry of Emily Dickinson

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Location: Heythrop College

The final in a series of talks presented by Hilary Davies

It was high-spring, and all the way
Primros’d, and hung with shade;
Yet, was it frost within,
And surly winds
Blasted my infant buds, and sinne
Like Clouds ecclips’d my mind

Henry Vaughan, ‘Regeneration’

At the season of Easter and the coming of spring, these lectures will look at what four major religious poets, two from the 17th and two from the 19th, have to tell us about the relationship between God and the incarnate world, between man and his Maker, and the fulcrum of faith that connects the two.  Is the world that we experience, in which we live, and love, and have our being, the affirmation of the presence of God?  If so, what is the place in it of sin, suffering and death?  Or should we rather strive towards a transcendent realm, one of ‘which we cannot speak’? What unites these chosen poets is the constant quest, through the poetic imagination, to explore ‘God in creation’, the God who is immanent in man’s affective, sensuous and spiritual surroundings, and to whom, man, in return, responds. Yet the roads they take to enter this realm are as individual as the poets and their language themselves.

Emily Dickinson: ‘ Hindered Rubies’

Emily Dickinson, unknown in her lifetime, is one of the most remarkable poets in English.  She charts her spiritual journey in a poetic language which is by turns lyric, visionary, savage and deranging. Creation can be as beautiful as her beloved bobolink bird singing, and as terrifying as the horses’ heads turned toward eternity. Death haunts her poetry and its reality brings her to the very edge of what can be said about God and faith.


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