Prophecy and Poetry

Prophecy and Poetry : Studies in Isaiah and Browning

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The volume before us is a series of lectures delivered on the Bohlen Foundation by Rev. Dr. Rogers, a Rector of the Episcopal Church. This is in line with the progressive history of English Literature, as it has so often found its ablest exponents in the ranks of the clergy, as seen in Chalmers, Whately, Maurice, Stanley, Trench, Sprague, Channing, and others, the special studies of the Christian minister leading him so often into the related province of literary production. The sub-title of the volume is "Studies in Isaiah and Browning," the object being to institute a comparison between them, as prophet and poet. Of the nine chapters of the book, the first one- "The Common Ground of Poetry and Religion" may be said to lay the basis and set the form for all that follows. In such books as Santayana's "Poetry and Religion," Selkirk's "Ethics and Aesthetics of Modern Poetry," Brooke's "Theology of the English Poets," Shairp's "Culture and Religion," Scudders "Life of the Spirit in Modern English Letters" and Wilson's "Theology of Modern Literature" we have this fruitful theme, for as the author remarks-"It is impossible to say the last word about either of them," poetry being "the expression of man's highest thought" and religion "the satisfaction of his deepest need." However different, therefore, their spheres may be, they "cannot be kept apart." In chapters II, III, and IV, the author develops in full the sub-title of his work. In the first-"Isaiah Among the Prophets," he institutes a suggestive comparison between the mission of other prophets, such as Moses, Jeremiah and Hosea, and that of Isaiah, with his "passion for righteousness and contempt for half-way measures," "the most representative of them all." In the following chapter "Browning Among the Poets," he views him as contrasted with other great English poets-with Shakespeare and Wordsworth and Matthew Arnold and Tennyson, insisting that Browning, while net necessarily the greatest of our poets, has a message for all those "who are stirred by the thousand questions that give to life its interest." In chapter IV, "Isaiah and Browning," we have the specific study of these two world-authors as representing Prophecy and Poetry, wherein it is suggested that they were alike marked by intensity of spirit, by clearness, breadth and penetration of vision, by the same "enthusiasm of living, the same vigorous utterance and instinct of catholicity." In the five chapters that follow, these comparisons are continued. As Isaiah showed how Assyria was used by God to punish a sinful people, so Browning showed "how evil may be forced to do the work of good, in its own despite." As Isaiah taught how in the face of all chastisements "A Remnant shall Return," so Browning taught that under the direst conditions, something of good will be found to exist and survive. To the prophet and poet alike "The Meaning of the Future" was significant, so full of possibility and promise to those who viewed it aright. To each of them "The Force of Personality," divine and human, appealed, the "Besetting God," as he phrases it; in his closing chapter, being "a Dweller and Worker in his own world." Such, in barest outline, are the content, method and motive of a very interesting volume, one which we cordially commend to every student of Biblical and secular literature as a solid contribution to the subject discussed. Fresh and suggestive in its conceptions, extremely rich and pertinent in its concrete illustrations from scripture and the poets, guarded, in the main, from what might easily become extreme and forced comparisons, it presents in a vital manner these two great exponents of their respective generations and seeks to show that, though centuries apart and with vocations widely different, they were working on "common ground" and toward the same great moral ends.... -Princeton Theological Review, Volume 8 [1910]show more

Product details

  • Paperback | 282 pages
  • 152.4 x 228.6 x 16.26mm | 489.88g
  • Createspace Independent Publishing Platform
  • United States
  • English
  • black & white illustrations
  • 1514789418
  • 9781514789414