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Faith, Hope and Poetry


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Table of Contents

Contents: Introduction: poetry and transfiguration: reading for a new vision; Seeing through dreams: image and truth in The Dream of the Rood; Truth through feigning: story and play in A Midsummer Night's Dream and The Tempest; Understanding light: ways of knowing in the poems of Sir John Davies; A second glance: transfigured vision in the poems of John Donne and George Herbert; Holy light and human blindness: visions of the invisible in the poetry of Henry Vaughn and Milton; A secret ministry: journeying with Coleridge to the source of the imagination; Doubting faith, reticent hope:transfigured vision in Thomas Hardy, Philip Larkin and Geoffrey Hill; The replenishing fountain: hope and renewal in the poetry of Seamus Heaney; Conclusion; Bibliography; Index.

About the Author

Malcolm Guite is a poet, priest and academic living and working in Cambridge. His recent writings include 'What Do Christians Believe?' 2006, 'Poetry, Playfulness and Truth...' a chapter on the theology of A Midsummer Night's Dream and The Tempest in Faithful Performances: Enacting Christian Tradition, ed. Trevor Hart and Stephen Guthrie Ashgate 2007 and six poems in Live Simply, 2008. His chapter on the poetry of CS Lewis appears in the Cambridge Companion to CS Lewis, 2010.


'Malcolm Guite, in this wide-ranging and original study, helps us see how poetry is - if we let ourselves be drawn in and shaped by it - a means of making connections with the fundamental way things are, and so too a way of connecting with a God who is himself a pattern of 'connection' as Trinity, open to share the divine reality with created life. Here are materials for a profound theology of the imagination, developed in dialogue with writers both familiar and unfamiliar, beautifully combining close reading with wide horizons.' The Most Revd Dr Rowan Williams 'No one with an interest in the history of poetry inspired by the Christian Faith can fail to be impressed with this book. Malcolm Guite has offered us an immensely rich work, ranging from the 8th Century Dream of the Rood, to Seamus Heaney via Shakespeare, John Davies, John Donne and George Herbert, in which the truth-telling available only in poetry is brought into the service of mature theological vision. It is quite simply both astounding and outstanding.' The Rt Revd Professor Stephen Sykes 'Malcolm Guite has the rare gift of being able to open up the depths of poetry and theology together. He is alert to form, content and context, and above all to the nuances of poetic visions of God, the complexities of faith, and spiritual transformations.' David Ford, Regius Professor of Divinity, University of Cambridge, UK 'To enter Malcolm Guite's Faith, Hope & Poetry is to discover a new continent with dazzling possibilities, a landscape where scholarship, vivid faith, word craft, imaginative insight, reflection and careful research are all available at a level that is revelatory to both academics and lay readers alike. Guite, not only an ordained Anglican priest but a poet and scholar of the highest order, invites us to this fresh feast - a summons that will widen our own worlds immeasurably.' Luci Shaw, Author, Harvesting Fog: Poems; Breath for the Bones: Art, Imagination, and Spirit 'For a lover of poetry it is a feast, for someone intrigued by poetry and theology, it is indeed a landmark work... there's something extraordinary about the freshness of his readings of such statuesque figures of the English literary tradition.' Transitions 'This book leaves the reader in no doubt as to the fruitfulness of poetry for theology. It is both a stimulating study for academic and a delightfully nourishing read for anyone with an interest in Christianity and the arts.' Theology '[Faith, Hope and Poetry] carries a compelling vision, worked out in dialogue with great poetry from across the span of English literature, of 'imaginative shaping and symbolic apprehension in the discovery of meaning and [...] truth'.' Journal of Theological Studies 'Malcolm Guite offers a welcome challenge to the division of 'two cultures' as discerned by C.P.Snow and the dissociation of 'sensibility' as identified by T.S.Eliot.' Heythrop Journal 'Faith, Hope and Poetry is an essential book for anyone hoping to work with literature as a mode of apologetics - an endeavor which is critical for evangelism in our postmodern, often post-Christian culture. The book's importance for literary apologetics is twofold. First, it is a compelling argument for the importance of Imagination in the pursuit of Truth; Guite helps us see clearly and deeply how poetry allows us to know truth in a different but complementary way to propositional, rational argument. Second, the specific close readings of the works provide a model for apologists of how to interact with poetry on poetry's terms, and thus enter into an imaginative experience of great power... Faith, Hope and Poetry is valuable not just for its specific insights, but also for its model of how to think, feel, and respond with both heart and mind as a Christian in the modern world.' Apologetics315 'Guite's method is to take the reader through a history of English religious poetry, with the aim of showing not merely that poetry has a natural theological bias, but that this theological or devotional content actually lies at the heart of the English poetic tradition.' Times Literary Supplement 'The express aim of this packed, rich and unusual book is to show that poetic imagination is truth-bearing and that this is valuable to theology... Malcolm Guite's book is a most compelling read, to Coleridgeans, and to Christians and non-Christians alike.' Coleridge Bulletin '... [a] thoroughly exceptional book; beautiful, engaging, and filled with striking insights... Guite does not argue his case so much as he demonstrates it, through careful and skilful readings of poetry. This is a particularly striking and attractive virtue of this lovely book... Faith, Hope and Poetry incarnates the best sort of theological engagement with the arts, one in which both theology and art are valued and given full play.' Image: Art, Faith, Mystery '... a delightful tour through some wonderful poetry. His book is both a challenge and an invitation, a delight and a dare.' Weblog 'A Wineskin in the Smoke' '... provide[s] some interesting material for reflection on the role of theological treatments of literary texts and the status of secularity such a theological discourse implies.' Literature and Theology 'Apart from personal reading (which I highly recommend), I can see a strong use for Faith, Hope and Poetry as a teaching resource... I could happily build a "theology and poetry" course around the entire text, confining myself pretty much to the poetry readings therein... Working patiently through these selections in seminar fashion with alert students would be a dream.' Christianity & Literature 'Faith, Hope and Poetry is an enjoyable book, laudably readable and accessible, and full of material for further reflection and discussion.' Notes and Queries 'In this book Malcolm Guite offers us three gifts: a lucid explanation of the role that the poetic imagination plays in resolving the bitter debate between science and theology inherited from the Enlightenment; a perceptive study of a selection of British poems written between the tenth and the twenty-first centuries that illustrate how the imagination offers 'the redress of an imbalance in our vision of the world and ourselves' (p.1); and an approach to understanding and experiencing those poems in the form of five suggestions for reading poetry deeply and perceptively.' Temenos Academy Review '...Guite's Faith,Hope and Poetry: Theology and the Poetic Imagination should be read as not merely a delightful glimpse into a particular strain of poetry, but also as a clarion call for all Christian theologians to reclaim an essential way of knowing Christian truth.' Themelios

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