[Milton-L] Herbert's poetry and belief

Jason Kerr aelfric at gmail.com
Thu Oct 1 15:02:20 EDT 2009

To my mind, Prof. Strier's own work admirably demonstrates that a
non-Christian can write with sensitivity and insight about Christian issues.
One need not agree with all his arguments to admit this.

A big part of the challenge of teaching 17th century lit, so much of which
has religious aspects, is helping students "to understand what it would
mean" to believe. I'd go so far as to say that this applies to all students,
regardless of faith position--that is, unless one of us has ever had a 17th
century presbyterian (or whatever) in class. Of course, this historicist
approach can itself be uncomfortable for some students.

With apologies for deviating from "one post a day,"
Jason A. Kerr

On Thu, Oct 1, 2009 at 2:05 PM, richard strier <rastrier at uchicago.edu>wrote:

> The idea that one has to be some sort of Christian to understand Herbert's
> poetry
> is offensive and obviously false.  T. DS. Eliot solved this problem long
> ago.  One
> doesn't have to believe but simply (or not so simply) to understand what it
> would
> mean to do so.
> Richard Strier
> Department of English
> University of Chicago
> 1115 East 58th Street
> Chicago, IL 60637
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The purpose of poetry is to remind us
how difficult it is to remain just one person,
for our house is open, there are no keys in the doors,
and invisible guests come in and out at will.

          —Czeslaw Milosz, from "Ars Poetica?"
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