Delli Carpini, John Books
About the author: John Delli Carpini received his PhD from Temple University in 1989 and has taught English and European literature at Gwynned Mercy College, Manor Junior College, and Saint Charles Seminary College. He is the author of Prayer and Piety in the Poems of Gerard Manley Hopkins (1998) and Poetry as Prayer: Emily Dickinson (2002) and writes regularly for Vocation and Prayer magazine. He publishes often about religion and literature.2004 0-7734-6411-5
This book is a complete and thorough study of William Wordsworth’s Ecclesiastical Sonnets emphasizing especially religion and history. The Ecclesiastical Sonnets are a sonnet sequence of 132 poems beginning with the founding of Christianity in England to the state of religion in Wordsworth’s day. Although a later work, they characterize many topics close to Wordsworth’s heart – the idea of history, pantheism, nature and Christianity. This book studies history and religion as well as Wordsworth’s use of sonnet sequence, a genre of his later writing. There has been very little written about the Ecclesiastical Sonnets, which are mentioned only as a footnote or a passing comment in Wordsworth studies. This book will help students to achieve a complete view of Wordsworth the young romantic as well as the elder statesman (poet laureate) of England.
This work rehabilitates a long neglected late work of William Wordsworth. Since the Ecclesiastical Sonnets are a relatively unfamiliar product of Wordsworth's later years, History, Religion, and Politics in Wordsworth's Ecclesiastical Sonnets provides a prose narrative of the poems. The text also reveals the interconnectedness of religious ideas in the Ecclesiastical Sonnets and earlier poems, especially The Excursion, Book IV, where he addresses the nature of religion, origins of worship, natural and supernatural revelation, ancient superstition, and humankind's receptivity to transcendence. Another topic is an examination of the sonnet form as used by Wordsworth. In "Scorn not the sonnet," he lauds the sonnet's prophetic function to guide humankind's "struggle through dark ways" and to be a trumpet blowing "Soul animating strains." Wordsworth hoped that the Ecclesiastical Sonnets would be a compass for the English people in a morally ambiguous era and promote a renewed nationalism in the English state. Important also in this study is Wordsworth's historical sense, beginning first with the image of the "snake enrolled,/ Coil within coil" and the gyred pattern of decline-recovery evident throughout the sonnet sequence. History, Religion, and Politics in Wordsworth's Ecclesiastical Sonnets examines the themes of the Ecclesiastical Sonnets and reviews Wordsworth's selection and interpretation of the historical personages that he believed dramatized the ebb and flow of Church history. Finally, in Chapter seven, the reader comes to understand that the Ecclesiastical Sonnets are not the certain and dogmatic articles of faith and product of conservative politics that some critics through the years have maintained, but Wordsworth's "obstinate questionings," his lifelong struggle with the uncertainty of faith, his hesitation in believing, difficulty in overcoming objections connected with the faith, and the anxiety aroused by faith's obscurity. Several sonnets are autobiographical insofar as they reflect Wordsworth's religious upbringing and catechesis, his experience of Christian living, celebration of the sacraments, and integration into the ecclesial community.
This study focuses on poems that are either addressed totally and directly to God or the Blessed Virgin Mary; poems that are prayers in part; and poems that are meditations on a religious theme. It categorizes the poems by the topics most influential in shaping Hopkins' spiritual and poetic life: the Virgin Mary, the Eucharist, the dark night of the soul, spiritual wrecking, nature, attainment of spiritual perfection, and the resurrection of the body. It chronicles the progress of Hopkins' spiritual life and his efforts to minimize himself as a poet and render praise and honor to God as a priest, seeking connections among poems, prayers, and spiritual meditations, examining them organically by asking how they reflect Hopkins' erratic relationship to God. It also examines the poems in light of his sermons, letters, and spiritual writings which clarify his religious sentiments and complete the portrait of Hopkins the poet and the priest.