Scintilla 18

Scintilla 18 : The Journal of the Vaughan Association

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Henry Vaughan and his priest-alchemist brother Thomas (1621-66), seventeenth-century identical twins, were shaped by their Breconshire birthplace, its hills and groves, creatures, herbs, stones, history and myths, the magical landscape of the Usk river valley that imprinted itself so firmly upon their work and imaginations. In this issue, Scintilla continues to explore these vital questions of the environment and its relation to spiritual and physical experience, crossing the critical and creative divide to bring together the best literary scholarship, prose and new poetry both long and short.Like their childhood home and landscape, the Vaughan brothers’ experience of the civil wars, regicide and republican revolution, equally shaped their lives and perspectives. Both brothers fought in that war and experienced the loss of institutions of both church and state that resulted. The discontinuity and alienation that followed were traumatic. Defeated, the twins reinvented themselves, Henry as ‘Silurist’ and Thomas as ‘Eugenius Philalethes’. Their writings reveal the connections between identity, adversity and the creative process, connections which remain central to Scintilla. This journal exists to explore such conjunctions, crossing boundaries between past and present, place and vision, the material world and our inner lives, between metaphysical experiences and language, between science, poetry and healing. Among Scintilla 18's articles are a number that will advance our understanding in important ways of Henry Vaughan as a writer and how he was read. Jonathan Nauman’s essay engages with the difficult and largely overlooked importance of St. Paulinus in Henry Vaughan’s spiritual perspective and devotional writing. Through careful close reading both of Paulinus and Vaughan, Nauman is able to identify which version of Paulinus Vaughan read, but also state with some certainty that the Silurist had become familiar with this spiritual writer from the ancient world at least five years earlier than previously thought. If true, this places Paulinus’s spiritual influence at the heart of the first edition of Silex Scintillans (1650). Indeed the ease with which Vaughan moves through Paulinus’s work suggests an alacrity and affinity with the saint’s perspective that considerably exceeds other influences such as Anselm, Nieremberg, or Eucherius.Moving more widely to other poets in the metaphysical tradition, Noam Reisner explores the sacramental language employed by Robert Southwell where poems like ‘The burning babe’ create a mental experience that ‘flattens’ hard metaphorical images on one hand and leads to ‘a deep sense of spiritual rapture on the other’. The effect, Reisner argues, is one that requires the mind of the reader to engage in a sacramental experience not unlike the forbidden mass, holding a hard material object in contemplation at the same time that one moves toward its transcendent qualities. In a similar way Jeremy Hooker celebrates the hard visceral imagery in the poetry of Rowan Williams where meaning is so much more present through uncompromising imagery expressed through the language of violent rupture and estrangement.The poems for Scintilla 18 were selected in the autumn and winter of a ‘dying year’ (to take a phrase from Alex Barr’s poem, ‘Ash’). That departing year was made all the darker by the tragically violent death of Anne Cluysenaar, whose poetry, as many Scintilla readers will know, has graced our pages and inspired from the start. Re-reading the poems we chose became for us an uncanny experience: each submission seemed, now, to negotiate that passing. Encountering in these poems the proximity of rasps and caresses, the need to believe that ‘dissolution / is only the verso of dazzling annunciation’, the ‘unrelenting violence of life’ that is the obligatory other of our serenity, and the ‘quickness of life’ new-born, we saw her life and death conjured everywhere.
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Product details

  • Paperback | 190 pages
  • 145.03 x 210.06 x 10.92mm | 308.44g
  • English
  • 1507550499
  • 9781507550496