Journal Article

The Paradox of Spiritual Matter and the Spiritual Matter of Paradox in Seamus Heaney and Robert Boyle

Steven Rizzo

in Literature and Theology

Volume 22, issue 4, pages 458-474
Published in print December 2008 | ISSN: 0269-1205
Published online April 2008 | e-ISSN: 1477-4623 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/litthe/frn012
The Paradox of Spiritual Matter and the Spiritual Matter of Paradox in Seamus Heaney and Robert Boyle

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By examining the convergences between Seamus Heaney's oeuvre and Robert Boyle's 1669 treatise ‘The History of Fluidity and Firmness’, this essay shows that the Irish Poet Laureate has more in common with his famous seventeenth-century countryman than he does with the postmodernists with whom so many of today's critics wish to associate him. Most postmodernists—handicapped as they are by strictly materialist philosophies—flounder in the apparent contradictions lying at the surface of natural phenomena, and thereby conclude that meaning is unknowable or nonexistent. Heaney, on the other hand, investigates natural processes like erosion and petrification, dissolution and crystallization, with the keen eye, open mind, and Biblically enlightened spirit of the natural philosophers. Consequently, like Boyle, Heaney pushes deeper into the mysteries of nature and discovers spiritual truth in material paradox.

Journal Article.  6953 words. 

Subjects: Literature ; Religion and Art, Literature, and Music

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