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Hindered Rubies: Faith and Incarnation in the Poetry of Thomas Traherne

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Hindered Rubies: Faith and Incarnation in the Poetry of Thomas Traherne

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Location: Heythrop College

The second 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.

Thomas Traherne: ‘A Constant Mirror of Eternity’

Traherne has often been portrayed as a Romantic avant la lettre because of his remarkable examination of how innocence allows a clearer vision of God than a mind dulled by contact with an inevitably imperfect world.  Through a close reading of his poems, we will look at how he uses the imagery of childhood as a symbol of the path to achieving a mature Christian faith.

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Other talks in this series: