This book explores the prophetic characteristics of literature, particularly poetry, that seek to reimagine the world in which it is written. Using theological and philosophical insights it charts the relentless impulse of literature to propose alternative visions, practicable or utopian, and point toward possibilities of renewal and change.
Drawing from each of the three main Abrahamic religions, as well as Greek and Latin classics, an international group of scholars utilise a diverse range of analytical and interpretive methods to draw out the prophetic voice in poetry. Looking at the writings of figures like T. S. Elliot, Blake, Wittgenstein and Isaiah, the theme of the prophetic is shown to be of timely importance given the current state of geo-political challenges and uncertainties and offers a much-needed critical discussion of these broad cultural questions.
This collection of essays offers readers an insight into the constructive power of literature. As such, it will be of great interest to scholars working in Religion and the Arts, Religious Studies, Theology and Aesthetics.
Table of Contents
Introduction by the Editors
I: Approaching the Prophetic: Orientations, Ancient and Modern
1 At the Creative Source of the Arts: Poetry as Prophecy in a Negative Theological Key
2 Isaiah: Reading Writing, Re-Voicing Silent Israel
3 ‘Diversely and in Many Ways God poke by the Prophets’: New Testament Perspectives and William Blake on the Prophetic Word
4 Poetry, Prophecy and the Angelic Voice: Reflections on the Divine Word
5 Prophecy and the Poetic Word
II: Prophecy in the Critical Lens of Philosophy
6 Explanation, Silence, and Then Poetry: Wittgenstein’s Poetic Philosophy as a
Prophetic Vision of Life
7 The Philosopher Empedocles as Prophet and His Reception by Freud
8 Poetry, Prophecy and Presence: Reading the Signs of the Times with Jacques Ellul
9 Beyond the ‘Immanent Frame’: Charles Taylor as Interpreter of the Prophetic in Poetry
III. The Prophetic in the Witness of Literature
10 John Clare’s Romantic ‘I’: A Prophetic Poetics of Testimony
11 Fearful Symmetry, Seventy Years On: Northrop Frye on William Blake
Michael Kirwan, SJ
12 Czesław Miłosz and R. S. Thomas as Prophetic Voices of Our Time
13 When does a Pilgrim become a Prophet? R. S. Thomas, ‘This to do’, and the Shaping of a Prophet
14 T. S. Eliot and Tadeusz Różewicz: The Prophetic Strain
15 The Forerunners: St. John the Baptist and Lazarus in the Poetry of T.S. Eliot
IV. Looking Forward: Framing the Question of the Prophetic in Late-Modernity
16 The Power of Spiritual Poetry in a Secular World
17 ‘Nature Is Never Spent’?: The Prophetic Voice in Contemporary Canadian Ecological Poetry
18 Prophecy as Hope: Interpreting the Silence of Holy Saturday
Mark S. Burrows is Professor of Religion and Literature at the University of Applied Sciences in Bochum, Germany, as well as a poet and translator of German literature. His academic work explores the horizon of Christian spirituality, with a research focus on the intersection of mysticism and poetics. His new translation of Rainer Maria Rilke’s Book of Hours, Part I, appeared in 2016 (Prayers of a Young Poet), and in 2014 he published a collection by the Iranian-German poet SAID (99 psalms). The Chance of Home, a collection of his poems, appeared in 2018, and together with Jon M. Sweeney he has published two recent volumes of poems inspired by Meister Eckhart: Meister Eckhart’s Book of the Heart (2017) and Meister Eckhart’s Book of Secrets (2019). He co-edited, with Jean Ward and Małgorzata Grzegorzewska, the third volume in “The Power of the Word” series, Poetic Revelations. Word Made Flesh Made Word; Routledge, 2017.
Hilary Davies has published four collections of poetry from Enitharmon: the latest, Exile and the Kingdom, was published in November 2016. She is also a translator, essayist and critic. Hilary has won an Eric Gregory award, been a Hawthornden Fellow, has served as Chairman of the Poetry Society of Great Britain and is a Fellow of the English Association. From 2012 to 2016 she was a Royal Literary Fund Fellow at King’s College, London and in 2018 – 9 at the British Library .
Josephine von Zitzewitz is Marie Sklodowska Curie Fellow in Russian Literature at UiT, the Arctic University of Norway in Tromso, having previously held research and teaching appointments at the universities of Cambridge, Oxford and Bristol. A specialist in 20th century poetry, she is the author of Poetry and the Leningrad Religious-Philosophical Seminar 1976-1980: Music for a Deaf Age (Legenda/MHRA and Routledge, 2016) and numerous articles on underground literature in the late Soviet Union. Her new book, The Culture of Samizdat: Literature and Underground Networks in the Late Soviet Union, is forthcoming with Bloomsbury (2020).