Poetry of Contemplation: John Donne, George Herbert, Henry Vaughan, and the Modern Period

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SUNY Press - 306 pages
This is the first systematic and thorough study of mysticism or contemplation in these three seventeenth-century poets and in three modern writers. It not only clarifies the very confused issue of mysticism in seventeenth-century poetry but also connects seventeenth-century poets with modern literature and science through the contemplative tradition; from the Bible and Plato and Church fathers and important mystics of the Middle Ages through Renaissance and modern contemplatives.

The transformative and redemptive power of contemplative poetry or holy writing (regardless of genre or discipline) is prominent throughout the book, and the relevance, indeed the vital necessity, of such poetry and of the living contemplative tradition to our apocalyptic modern world is discussed in the last chapter. In this chapter, attention is given to modern science, especially to the new physics, and to philosophical and mystical writings of eminent scientists.

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Contents

Contemplative Tradition
1
John Donne
19
George Herbert
81
Henry Vaughan
129
Contemplative Poetry and the Modem Period
173
APPENDIX A Grouping of the Songs and Sonnets
241
Notes
251
Works Cited
281
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About the author

Arthur L. Clements is Professor of English and teaches Modern and Renaissance Literature and Creative Writing at the State University of New York at Binghamton. He has published an edition of John Donne s Poetry, The Mystical Poetry of Thomas Traherne, and a book of poems, Common Blessings.

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