Letters from the Darkling Plain: Language and the Grounds of Knowledge in the Poetry of Arnold and Hopkins

Letters from the Darkling Plain: Language and the Grounds of Knowledge in the Poetry of Arnold and Hopkins

Letters from the Darkling Plain: Language and the Grounds of Knowledge in the Poetry of Arnold and Hopkins

Letters from the Darkling Plain: Language and the Grounds of Knowledge in the Poetry of Arnold and Hopkins

Excerpt

In his perceptive book on Dante, The Figure of Beatrice, Charles Williams describes Dante’s sensibility in a striking and suggestive way. Of Beatrice, the crowning symbol of the Divine Comedy, he writes: “She is, in the whole Paradiso, his way of knowing, and the maxim is always ‘look; look well.’ Attention is demanded of him and her expositions are the result of his attention. She is, in a sense, his very act of knowing. It is in this sense that the Paradiso is an image of the whole act of knowing which is the great Romantic Way, the Way of the Affirmation of Images, ending in the balanced whole. Indeed the entire work of Dante, so interrelevant as it is, is a description of the great act of knowledge, in which Dante himself is the Knower, and God is the Known, and Beatrice is the Knowing.”

Dante’s poetic vision, as Williams describes it, derives from an older, more nearly unified consciousness. For Dante, the symbols of his poem are the way he knows, are in fact the knowing itself. He did not conceive of his poem as an ornamental exercise somehow allegorizing a separate, autonomous, and objective “truth.” Nor did he think of the Divine Comedy as simply an expression of his own soul in the manner of, say, Poe. Instead, he seems to have regarded the poem as a creative mode of perceiving reality.

Another influential student of the medieval consciousness, Erich Auerbach, has arrived at somewhat similar conclusions, supported by a solid foundation of scholarship and applicable to a broad range of earlier . . .

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.