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This article is taken from PN Review 250, Volume 46 Number 2, November - December 2019.

on Michael Edward's Christian Poetics
Revisiting a Christian Poetics
David Jasper
Prayer is one thing, quite another is how
throughout the day I appear to you,
a wise man from the west bearing gifts
of guilt, and frank disobedience, and murmur.
       — Michael Edwards, At the Brasserie Lipp

The following essay was first read as a paper written for a day conference held at the Maison Française in Oxford on 17 May 2019. Some of its oral qualities have been deliberately retained. The conference was held in honour of the literary scholar Sir Michael Edwards, and specifically to celebrate the publication of his most recent collection of poems At the Brasserie Lipp (2019). Having been for many years Professor of English and Comparative Literature at the University of Warwick, Edwards became the first English person to be elected to the Académie française in 2013. I am concerned here with Edwards’ life-long reflections on the relationship between poetry and Christian theology.


I do not remember exactly how many years it is since I first met Michael Edwards, but I think it must be about thirty-five. Certainly it was before 1984, when I bought my copy of his book Towards and Christian Poetics almost as soon as it was published in that year. Four years later I bought his subsequent collection of essays on the power of poetic language entitled Poetry and Possibility (1988), and the two books continue to reside on my bookshelves, both of them now shabby and bearing the marks of much use.

I have spent most of ...


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