All Wonders in One Sight: The Christ Child among the Elizabethan and Stuart Poets
In the seventeenth century many leading poets wrote poems about Christ’s infancy, though charm and sweetness were not the leading note. Because these poets were university-educated classicists – many of them also Catholic or Anglican priests – they wrote in an elevated style, with elevated language, and their concerns were deeply theological as well as poetic. In an age of religious controversy, their poems had controversial elements, and because these poems were mostly intended for private use and limited circulation, they were not generally singable hymns of public celebration of Christ’s birth. However far from dry academic pieces, these poems offer a wide variety of approaches to both their subject, the infant Jesus, and the means of presenting it.
All Wonders in One Sight examines the ways in which early modern English poets understood and accomplished the poetic task of representing Christ as both Child and God. Focusing on the intellectual and theological content of the poems as well as the devotional aims of the poets, Theresa M. Kenney aims to reveal their understandings of divine immanence and the sacrament of the Eucharist.
- World Rights
- Page Count: 240 pages
- Dimensions: 6.3in x 0.8in x 9.3in
"This impressive volume considers a collection of significant early seventeenth-century poets who dramatize the Nativity in their lyric poetry. How does the vivid physicality of the Nativity – and the Proleptic Passion – come under pressure from the increasingly rarified notion of the Incarnation? In this work, Theresa M. Kenney engages with profound and enduring aesthetic and religious issues. She teaches us to puzzle over good poems, probe them, enter into them, learn from them, and in the end to appreciate more deeply the human imagination that we all share. Such criticism counteracts the levelling effect of various post-structuralisms, and it is the kind of criticism that will survive for future generations who have no need of further sneering cynicism."
Eric W. Nye, Emeritus Professor of English, University of Wyoming
"One would think the subject of the Christ Child in sixteenth- and seventeenth-century English religious lyrics is so well elucidated that not much new can be said about it. But Kenney’s All Wonders in One Sight contains the wonders of new insights. Her analyses of the ways in which significant poems by Robert Southwell, John Donne, George Herbert, John Milton, and Richard Crashaw collapse time and space in the service of conjuring a lively sense of Christ’s presence offer promising pathways for future investigation into poems and poets long thought to be quite familiar. This book makes a valuable contribution."
Sean H. McDowell, Associate Professor of English and Film Studies, Seattle University
"In astute ecclesiastical and theological contextualization and deft poetic explications, Theresa M. Kenney offers readers a perceptive understanding of and appreciation for how Southwell, Donne, Herbert, Milton, and Crashaw depict in their lyric poems the seminal event in Christianity of God taking on human flesh. In Kenney’s thoroughly researched and jargon-free study, readers are ultimately provided not just a much keener understanding of the significance of the Christ Child in Elizabethan and Stuart poetry, but a perceptive presentation of the evolution of the religious lyric in England through these literary periods."
Gary M. Bouchard, Professor of English, Saint Anselm College
Author InformationTheresa M. Kenney is a professor in the Department of English at the University of Dallas.
Table of contents
1. Time and Space in the Nativity Lyric
2. The Christ Child on Fire: Southwell’s Mighty Babe
3. “Kisse him, and with him into Egypt goe”: John Donne and the Christ Child of the La Corona Sonnets
4. “My Saviour’s Face”: George Herbert’s “Star” and the Vanishing Christ Child
5. “Wisest Fate Says No”: Milton’s Nativity Ode and “On the Circumcision”
6. “We kis’t the cradle of our king”: Affection, Awe, and Abridging the Laws of Time in Crashaw
The Christ Child: “Little Boy Lost”
Subjects and Courses