The Metaphysical Poets

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The next poet is William Alabaster. His poem 'Upon the Ensignes of Christes Crucifyinge' is a tribute to Jesus Christ, and repeats the claim, seemingly believed by Christians, that the death of this figure was good for other people. As Alabaster puts it, pain was bitter to Christ, 'But sweete to me, whose Death my life procur'd'. Thus 'such loss' also means 'such gaine'. I'm content to say that I have never understood this concept.

A bit more interesting is Alabaster's use of metaphor - though this also feels excessive and stagey: 'My tongue shall bee my Penne, mine eyes shall raise / Teares for my Inke, the Cross where I was cur'd / Shall be my Booke'. A cross doesn't seem much like a book. On the whole this poem feels unimpressively sycophantic towards its religious idol.

the pinefox, Thursday, 22 April 2021 15:18 (seven months ago) link

Alabaster also presents another poem, called 'Incarnatio est maximum donum Dei'. It's good for people to know lots of languages, but I'm not really keen for poems in English to have titles in other languages, unless this makes a useful point that helps the poem somehow. It might have been good to translate this one.

The poem is 14 lines long: a sonnet. The first 8 lines describe one thing: the 'eternall bounty' of the god that the poet celebrates. The next 6 talk about 'goodnes', but aren't that clear to me. The statement about the god 'making man a God omnipotent' is false and not a pleasant picture of humanity, though it may refer to the Christian idea that their god took on human form, rather than its more obvious meaning.

On the whole another wheedlingly sycophantic poem. Religion doesn't seem to be very good for these poets.

the pinefox, Thursday, 22 April 2021 15:28 (seven months ago) link

I just saw this thread!

I treasure my Penguin edition of the Gardner anthology. Will try to post a poem and response later.

So who you gonna call? The martini police (Alfred, Lord Sotosyn), Thursday, 22 April 2021 15:39 (seven months ago) link

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