God and the Imagination: On Poets, Poetry, and the Ineffable

God and the Imagination: On Poets, Poetry, and the Ineffable

by Paul Mariani


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Poet, critic, biographer, and Catholic intellectual Paul Mariani delivers huge armfuls of experience and knowledge in this wide-ranging collection of twenty-four essays. As a man of faith in a secular world, Mariani brings to light issues surrounding spirituality and poetry through discussions of the Gnostics, Roman history, the Bible, John of the Cross, Rilke, Robert Pack, Galway Kinnell, Philip Levine, and the poets he most admires—Gerard Manley Hopkins, William Carlos Williams, Hart Crane, John Berryman, and Robert Lowell.

Charged with spiritual and intellectual awe, Mariani fully engages with his subjects, from their lives to their works to their grand impact on Mariani's own life as a poet. His prose flows easily from anecdote to analysis, from Paterson, the setting of Williams's great tribute poem, to Manhattan, where Mariani haunts old neighborhoods and the Brooklyn Bridge, searching for traces of Hart Crane. By infusing scholarly criticism with a personal voice, Mariani allows us to see the relationship between poetry and a sublime presence in the universe.

Serious reading for anyone interested in modern and contemporary poetry, God and the Imagination offers elegant and original insights into a wide variety of poetic concerns. But it is most extraordinary for its celebration of the lives of the poets, which allow us, in Mariani's words, "to recover what would otherwise be lost to time and silence."

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780820352381
Publisher: University of Georgia Press
Publication date: 04/01/2017
Pages: 304
Product dimensions: 5.50(w) x 8.25(h) x 0.03(d)

About the Author

PAUL MARIANI is the author of Thirty Days: On Retreat with the Exercises of St. Ignatius and five volumes of poetry, including, most recently, The Great Wheel. Besides several critical studies, he has also published biographies of Robert Lowell, William Carlos Williams, Hart Crane, and John Berryman. Mariani currently holds a Chair in English at Boston College.

Table of Contents

I.Writing the Self
Hopkins As Lifeline30
Quid Pro Quo38
Eight or Nine Ways of Looking at a River45
II.Writing Lives
The Brain That Hears the Music55
Kinnell's Legacy: On "The Avenue Bearing the Initial of Christ into the New World"68
Lowell on Berryman on Lowell77
Writing Lowell95
The Hole in the Middle of the Book: Absence and Presence in Biography105
Staring into the Abyss: Robert Pack's Later Poems122
Hardy's Heartbreak129
Hart Crane: "Clenched Beaks Coughing for the Surge Again"143
Skyscraper Soup: Two Views of Twenties New York148
Frost among the Poets163
Reconfiguring Flame: The Art of Biography179
III.God and the Imagination
Summoning the Dead: Politics and the Sublime in Contemporary English Poetry197
The Intensest Rendezvous: On the Poems of John of the Cross214
The Ineffability of What Counts223
Toward a Sacramental Language233
God and the Imagination245
"The Unshapeable Shock Night": Pain, Suffering, and the Redemptive Imagination258

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