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Religions 2017, 8(1), 10;

Elizabeth Bishop and the Poetry of Meditation

Department of Humanities and Augustinian Traditions, Villanova University, 800 Lancaster Ave., Villanova, PA 19085, USA
Academic Editor: Kevin Hart
Received: 5 July 2016 / Revised: 4 January 2017 / Accepted: 4 January 2017 / Published: 11 January 2017
(This article belongs to the Special Issue English Poetry and Christianity)
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Elizabeth Bishop’s poetry has won the admiration of a number of Christian poets and scholars. This essay argues that one reason for this is Bishop’s subtle engagement with the work of the poet-divines Gerard Manley Hopkins and, especially, George Herbert; through their influence, she enters into the guiding western poetic tradition of the meditative lyric, which is rooted in the Platonic and Christian accounts of the human person as an image of the Triune God in virtue of the mind as a trinity of memory, understanding, and will. Bishop practiced poetry as a moral act open to a divinity it cannot account for or even name, but traces of whose significance run through the world her poems depict. By considering her work, and her poem “The Weed” in particular, in the context of Herbert, the historical studies of Louis L. Martz, and the literary theory of Yvor Winters, we see that Bishop the unbeliever cannot properly be understood as a “secular” poet, but as one who recognizes the meditative lyric as a way of arriving at understanding of a truth that transcends us. View Full-Text
Keywords: Elizabeth Bishop; Yvor Winters; Louis L. Martz; Meditative Lyric; the Secular; George Herbert; Christian Platonism; Augustine; modern poetry Elizabeth Bishop; Yvor Winters; Louis L. Martz; Meditative Lyric; the Secular; George Herbert; Christian Platonism; Augustine; modern poetry
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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Wilson, J.M. Elizabeth Bishop and the Poetry of Meditation. Religions 2017, 8, 10.

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