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Religions 2016, 7(12), 146; doi:10.3390/rel7120146

Poem as Endangered Being: Lacostian Soundings in Hopkins’s “Hurrahing” and Stevens’s “Blackbird”

Department of Religious Studies, University of Virginia, 323 Gibson Hall, Charlottesville, VA 22904, USA
Academic Editor: Kevin Hart
Received: 13 October 2016 / Revised: 15 November 2016 / Accepted: 25 November 2016 / Published: 8 December 2016
(This article belongs to the Special Issue English Poetry and Christianity)
View Full-Text   |   Download PDF [379 KB, uploaded 8 December 2016]

Abstract

This essay situates the recent phenomenology of French Heideggerean-priest Jean-Yves Lacoste in Être en Danger (2011) in a wider discussion of the sacramentology of “things” to pursue the hypothesis that the being of a poem is endangered—crossed between the concrete and the abstract, the perceived and the imagined, the object and the thing. Whereas for Heidegger danger entails a technocratic closure of Dasein’s being-toward-death, for Lacoste danger is proper to the being of life. Lacoste offers two “counter-existentials” to show, contra Heidegger, that life simply cannot be being-toward-death all the time: sabbatical experience and art experience. It is to these kinds of experience that poetry clearly belongs. To illustrate what Lacoste means by sabbatical experience, I offer a reading of G.M. Hopkins’s “Hurrahing in Harvest” (1877); to illustrate what Lacoste means by art experience, I turn to Wallace Stevens’s “Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird” (1917). Finally, I conclude that rather than contrast the secular poem with the religious poem it is best to think of all poetry as generically sacramental, i.e., signs and things (signum et res), with religious poetry constituting an excessive pole that is addressed to the sacrament of God (res tantum). The Christian loves the poem because the poem does not make him or her choose between God and things—in light of the Incarnation, an insupportable choice. View Full-Text
Keywords: phenomenology; Jean-Yves-Lacoste; Martin Heidegger; sacraments; poetry; Wallace Stevens; Gerard Manley Hopkins phenomenology; Jean-Yves-Lacoste; Martin Heidegger; sacraments; poetry; Wallace Stevens; Gerard Manley Hopkins
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. (CC BY 4.0).

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Farley, M.D. Poem as Endangered Being: Lacostian Soundings in Hopkins’s “Hurrahing” and Stevens’s “Blackbird”. Religions 2016, 7, 146.

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