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This review is taken from PN Review 3, Volume 4 Number 3, April - June 1978.

FAITH AND SENSIBILITY Harold L. Weatherby, The Keen Delight: The Christian Poet in the Modern World, University of Georgia Press, Athens, $7.50.

In The Keen Delight, Professor Weatherby has written a book of startling intellectual clarity. His subject is the predicament of Christian poetry and the Christian poet in a modern world suffused with scepticism and the distrust of metaphysical knowledge. But what he has written will have far wider appeal than his title might suggest. His examination of the philosophies of Aquinas, Duns Scotus and Newman as they relate to the poetic achievement of Dante, Hopkins and Eliot should attract anyone interested in the nature of poetic expression and the actual and potential state of poetry as a vehicle of intelligent communication.

Weatherby takes as his starting-point Allen Tate's observation that 'The Catholic faith has not changed since Dante's time' but 'the Catholic sensibility', the mode of approach to that faith, has. This change has many aspects but 'perhaps the most important . . . for poetry-is the difference in modes of knowing God'. The contrast between the modes, which Professor Weatherby illustrates through examination and comparison between the metaphysics and theologies of the 'medieval' Aquinas and the 'modern' Newman, lies in the fact that the theology of St Thomas (and Dante) holds that 'God is known by natural knowledge through the images of His effects', while that of Newman (and Hopkins) depends on intuitive intimations of the divine which run against the grain of natural reason. Thus while the God of the Divine Comedy is intellectually known as the supreme ordering principle of the universe, present in ...


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