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Hindered Rubies: Faith and Incarnation in the Poetry of Henry Vaughan

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Hindered Rubies: Faith and Incarnation in the Poetry of Henry Vaughan

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Location: Heythrop College

The first 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.

Henry Vaughan: ‘‘Look, its fragments are flashing at last to heaven’

In this lecture we will be considering Vaughan’s understanding of how the sublunary, created world reveals God’s grace to man.  Even though nature partakes of corruption, it nevertheless cannot help but point by its very existence to its creator, and this gives it purpose. It becomes a gateway to the divine. Vaughan is jubilant, ecstatic, at his encounters with it and what they indicate of the literally boundless fecundity of God’s love.

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Other talks in this series: