Chapter

Christian Poetics and Orthodox Practice: Meaning and Implication in Six Carols by James Ryman, O.F.M.

John C. Hirsh

in Medieval Poetics and Social Practice

Published by Fordham University Press

Published in print June 2012 | ISBN: 9780823243242
Published online January 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780823243280 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.5422/fordham/9780823243242.003.0004

Series: Fordham Series in Medieval Studies (FUP)

Christian Poetics and Orthodox Practice: Meaning and Implication in Six Carols by James Ryman, O.F.M.

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The intervention of friars into different arenas of culture could give rise to unique and subtle poetics. Hirsh turns our attention to James Ryman, a fifteenth-century Franciscan who was also a poet and musician. Hirsh argues that while the simplicity of Ryman's songs and carols generally relegates him to a place below the critical radar, this very simplicity in fact “enabled both composer and audience to become engaged in a powerful and considered spirituality.” By avoiding overt response to Lollard and other reformist dissent, Ryman's carols can “construc[t] a nuanced representation of certain central Christian teachings in a way that responds to Franciscan thought and spirituality.” In the six carols that Hirsh examines, syntax, form, and imagery “gently reflect” rather than aggressively argue. This tonal strategy allows Ryman's carols to articulate a critical understanding of hypostatic union while at the same time sustaining “a degree of poetic wonder.”

Keywords: Carols; James Ryman; Lollard; Franciscan; Poetics; Theology; medieval

Chapter.  6254 words. 

Subjects: Literary Theory and Cultural Studies

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