THE SACRAMENTAL VISION OF GERARD MANLEY HOPKINS AND DAVID JONES
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This thesis examines the nature of what I have termed "the sacramental vision" of Gerard Manley Hopkins and David Jones: it is an exploration of the mutually sustaining relationship between poetry and religion; or, as Jones puts it, between art and sacrament. The key to the relationship is to be found in language: the inherited language of theologian and poet is saturated with metaphor, sign and symbol, linguistic forms of a particularly resistant and irreducible kind. In literature, as in religion, such forms represent ultimate points of vision, to which in trust we assent, and from which we infer belief, that is, we are required to convert what begins as "an impression upon the Imagination" into a belief which may be tested by reason. The poet's renewal of such sacramental signs is a necessary exercise of the religious imagination if each generation is to remake the beliefs it has inherited. The opening chapter is an examination of the origins of Hopkins's and Jones's use of the sacramental sign and the subsequent chapters scrutinise the value of sign-making to the development of the poetic method of both poets. I suggest that this method is best elucidated through three controlling principles: the Coleridgean view of the sacramental potential of language helps to define the verbal content of the poem; the Thornist sacramental schema instresses the form of the poem; and the Newmanesque process of notional and real assent determines the grammar or inscape of the total oeuvre as a chronicle of the development of the poet's spiritual growth. Hopkins and Jones deepen our understanding of a grammar common to faith and belief, shared by poet and theologian, by claiming that poetry should be the tranforming crucible of the encounter between the experience of the poet, the reader and the divine.
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