By Peggy Rosenthal

Poets have constantly been the medium by which a tradition talks of, and to, its gods. Now, during this discovered yet full of life remark, Peggy Rosenthal indicates us the stunning variety of poetic encounters with Jesus. With a distinct emphasis on twentieth-century poetry, Rosenthal attracts from an unparalleled diversity of global poetry--from Africa, the Arab international, and the some distance East to Latin the USA and the West--to supply readers an figuring out of the way various occasions and diversified cultures have affected the way in which poets refigure Jesus and of the way poets' fascination with the fellow from Nazareth transcends all boundaries. She additionally demonstrates that, regardless of the 20th century's self-definition as an earthly and post-Christian epoch, it has produced poetry approximately Jesus of actually brilliant caliber and diversity. Impeccably researched and intensely available, The Poets Jesus will strongly entice students of poetry and faith in addition to for all normal readers of poetry.

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Only disobedience of repressive authority can free the human spirit. To illustrate his point, Blake reverses the standard lesson on the Gospel episode (Luke 2:41—49) of the child Jesus staying in the temple while his anxious parents worried about where he was. Preachers of Blake's day (like many still) commonly used the episode to model Jesus as the perfectly obedient child, but Blake will have none of this: Was Jesus gentle, or did he Give any marks of Gentility? When twelve years old he ran away And left his Parents in dismay.

But as much as Goethe cared about morality in all his later works, to dramatize real human moral struggles he needed figures who manifested something less (hence more interesting) than moral perfection. Meanwhile, as Goethe was growing out of the tempestuous self-creation of the Sturm und Drang, that sensibility was maturing in England into what would become Romanticism's fully developed construction of the Individual. For the major British Romantic poets, Jesus is out of the picture because, as in 'Prometheus' and 'Harz Journey in Winter,' the role of divine representative on earth is taken over by the poet-genius in communion with natural forces.

I bow before Him as the divine manifestation of the highest morality. If I am asked whether it is in my nature to reverence the sun, I again say—certainly! 6 The tone is echt late Goethe: grandly self-confident, bowing before life's source, yet without the least subservience. For Goethe, Jesus is undoubtedly divine, with "morality" assumed (as so often in this era) to be divinity's measure. But equally divine is the sun. Nature worship was right in the Romantic mode. Even German preRomanticism, in a 1770s literary movement called the Sturm und Drang (Storm and Stress), indulged in what Goethe's early British biographer, George Lewes, calls a "hysterical enthusiasm" for Nature.

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