Journal Article

‘Love-Runes We Cannot Speak’: Sacred and Profane Love in <i>The Pentecost Castle</i>

Alexander Freer

in Literature and Theology

Volume 26, issue 2, pages 199-213
Published in print June 2012 | ISSN: 0269-1205
Published online April 2012 | e-ISSN: 1477-4623 | DOI:
‘Love-Runes We Cannot Speak’: Sacred and Profane Love in The Pentecost Castle

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Geoffrey Hill’s sequence The Pentecost Castle is both attentive to its poetic progenitors Calderon and Lope, and independent in its ambiguous use of the contrahecha a lo divino. Considering the debate between Schleiermacher and Hegel over the place of religious feeling, I read Hill’s sequence as a meditation on the capacity of poetry to reliably communicate religious feeling. I suggest that the poems cannot successfully represent assured faith, but instead show a condition of doubt that is necessary to fully depict religious experience. Connecting the sequence to Simone Weil’s Gravity and Grace, I suggest that desire frustrates the poems’ religious metaphors, but the desire for nothing allows the poems to illustrate a subjective engagement with God that is at the heart of both Weil and Schleiermacher’s philosophies.

Journal Article.  5605 words. 

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

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