One of Southwell's most enduring poems, "Life is but Losse" 51 is a perfect example of this main concern of his mature work.
Vanity Fea: 'Metaphysical' Religious Poetry: Herbert, Crashaw, and Vaughan
Throughout the seven stanzas, Southwell describes the martyrdom of English Catholics at the time, employing biblical figures of both Testaments i. The poem's title forewarns the reader of the pessimistic tone Southwell uses to describe life. Its importance is minimal compared to death, as demonstrated in the line "Life is but losse, where death is deemed gaine. Dedicating one's life to the propagation of the Lord's teachings, thus, will produce an even better outcome.
Southwell did not rely exclusively on biblical figures to present Catholic ideas about martyrdom.
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Her life, full of bitterness, pales in comparison to the afterlife, her existence after death. She did not fear death, since it brought her closer to Christ; therefore, English Catholics should not either, since mortal existence only restricts their relationship with the Lord. Southwell's poetry, written at a time when the mere fact of professing Catholic faith was sometimes considered an act of treason, served as inspiration for the English Catholics who were doubting their beliefs in light of the extremely difficult situation that surrounded them. This idea, incomprehensible to a reader unaware of the historical occurrences of the epoch, was in harmony with Catholic teachings and tradition.
The sonnets within the triads to the Virgin and the Magdalene can stand alone and have a similar internal structure.
Like the majority of the Spiritual Sonnets, they contain a reflection on the life or a contem- plation of the saint followed by, or interwoven with, a petition for their intercession, as the poet envisions his ultimate goal, that is, his mysti- cal union with God after death. Maria Jesus Perez-Jauregui heaven.
The execution of Mary, Queen of Scots, on February 8, marked the start of two sharply differentiated trends of literary response in England and around Europe. Wilkinson Dublin: Four Courts Press, , — Unless otherwise noted, translations are my own. The advantages of accomplishing the task under cover of darkness were thus compromised by the necessity of using torches.
Thus, she is given the dignity that the poet considers her due.
See also Woodward, The Theatre of Death, Constable must have been in Italy when he came across the poem. Had she not been so, her martyrdom would have atoned for any sin.
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The glorious ascension of the queen to heaven was portrayed in other contemporary works. Alexander B. Grosart Blackburn, , Purple is also a royal color, so both meanings are linked in the person of Mary Stuart.
Throughout the triad of sonnets, Mary undergoes a process of disem- bodiment. Images of sacrifice and blood give way to an account of the tribute England denies but nature pays her at the time of the funeral. Lastly, her soul ascends to heaven, abandoning the body and the ma- terial world.
Hence, her story is presented not as a tragedy but as a tale of triumph. Constable begins recounting the death of a mortal queen who had been unjustly dispossessed of her privileges and ill treated, but, as he moves toward the conclusion of the sequence, Mary is ranked with the other saints honored in the Spiritual Sonnets, her position within the collection uncontested from the perspective of a Catholic reader.
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These three sonnets add another turn of the screw and carry additional political implications that no educated Elizabethan reader could have missed. Alexandra Bamji, Geert H. Janssen, and Mary Laven Farnham: Ashgate, , — In he started drafting a treatise titled Examen pacifique de la doctrine des Huguenots, published anonymously a year later, in which he adopts a Catholic persona in order to advocate toleration and a possible recon- ciliation between the churches.
The ambiguous elements and potentially controversial statements found in some of his secular sonnets, particularly within the Todd MS, which derives from the latest authorial collection, evidence his anxiety as he faced a large corpus of religious and polemical literature written by both parties and probably found some kind of truth in both. In the Berkeley collec- tion, however, Mary makes an appearance and is granted an elevated status consistent with her martyrdom and de facto sanctification. Eliza- beth is brought down in the hierarchy so that not only the Virgin Mary, who stands on top, but also the woman she had viewed as a rival and a threat, and who was a constant source of jealousy and restlessness for the English monarch, ranks above her.
As an exile who knew that he would never return home while Elizabeth was alive, Constable had placed his hopes in the succession of James. Besides reaching out to the king in person, Constable also partook in the ongoing succession debate, which was banned by the Elizabe- than government but still became the topic of a number of pamphlets.
After identifying a set of trans-confessional representational strategies common to Catholics and Protestants, this dissertation then examines the poetry of Robert Southwell, William Alabaster, John Donne, Sir John Beaumont, and Richard Crashaw in order to discover how each poet appropriates the Passion to speak to problems of ecclesial and political community in seventeenth-century England. While each writer adapts similar Passion discourses to his work, each also enlists the Passion to critique and construct various visions of the church, of political community, and of literary communities.
Ultimately, in arguing that the Passion continued to be vital to English poets for engaging questions of communal identity, Members of His Body suggests that future study of the period must reconsider how received accounts of the waning of Catholicism and the ascendancy of Protestantism shape traditional and often incomplete accounts of English literary history in the post-Reformation period.