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Herbat GrashflM, and the Schoia Cordis Tradition by Albert C. Labriola The speaker in Shakespeare's sonnets sometimes refers to his heart as the place wherein the loved one is kept. To elaborate this concept, he employs or adapts various images. The loved one, for instance, is likened to a treasure closely guarded under lock and key. Or a picture of the loved one is painted or inscribed on the speaker's heart, which is likened to a tablet. Thus, he may compare himself to "the rich whose blessed key /Can bring him to his sweet up-locked treasure" (Sonnet 52), or within himself the speaker may view the "true image pictured" of the loved one (Sonnet 24). 1 Though it may be argued that images of the heart describe the relationship between the speaker and the loved one, it is more exact to remark that images reflect the speaker's changing perception of that relationship. Exactness is essential here, for in recounting the speaker's changing perception the sonnets articulate the fullness of his voice, including its tonal range and the variety of his attitudes. The two images I have cited in Shakespeare's sonnets — the loved one as treasure under lock and key and the picture imprinted on the speaker's heart — are commonplace in love poetry. Recurring in Petrarch's Canzonlere. they are likewise employed in English sonnets written under Petrarch's influence . Interestingly, they also appear in religious poetry, including that of George Herbert and Richard Crashaw. Like Shakespeare's Sonnet 52, Herbert's "The Bunch of Grapes" begins with an image of lock and key. In this case, however, the image reflects the speaker's awareness of some loss: "Joy, I did lock thee up: but some bad man / Hath let thee out again." 2 Two of Crashaw's poetic paraphrases of John 1 0: 7-9, the one in English ("I am the Doore") and the other in Latin (Ego »urn oatlum"), adapt the same image. The Latin paraphrase, in fact, develops a pun on the words for nails and keys: Etclavtclavea undlque et reaerant" ("And the nails as keys unlock you on all sides"). 3 Describing the Crucifixion or its sacramental celebration in the Eucharistie banquet, these poems by Herbert and Crashaw center on the redemptive effect of 13 Albert C. Labriola Christ's spilled and shared blood. Several other poems by Herbert and Crashaw describe the redemptive mystery by using the image of the crucified Christ painted or inscribed on the human heart. A comparison with secular poetry is again evident, poetry like Shakespeare's Sonnet 24 that uses the image of the inscribed heart to depict a loving relationship. If imagistic resemblances between secular and devotional poetry are this clearcut, the speakers' changing perceptions of their loving relationships are likewise comparable. In secular poetry the speaker is variously alienated from, punished by, longing for, or united with his beloved. When he perceives a change in relationship, his tone and attitude reflect it. In devotional poetry the speaker's relationships with God are likewise various. Within a single poem (Herbert's "The Collar," for instance) the speaker at first is rebelliosuly alienated from God, but by the very end of the poem his attitude and tone of voice dramatically change to deference, pliancy, and submissiveness . The larger cycle through which man passes in his changing relationships with God— temptation, sinning, alienation and rebelliousness, penance, atonement, regeneration, and sanctification — has its counterpart in secular poetry, not only in the sonnets and love lyrics but in romances, most notably Romance ofthe Roae. This parallelism of sacred and secular love characterizes emblem books written in the so-called achola cordl» tradition. Largely dependent on Continental prototypes, including Corleauamantlaacrum (ca. 1600) by Anton Wierix and Le coeur devot (1626) by Etienne Luzvic, Henry Hawkins' book The Devout Hart (1634) has cardiomorphic emblems showing Christ sweeping, cleaning, and preparing the human heart for habitation, consecrating it with a sprinkling of blood, wounding it with fiery darts and arrows, celebrating his marriage with the sanctified heart, and so forth. Several scholars, including Mario Praz and Rosemary Freeman, have traced the achola cordl» tradition in emblem books, Continental and...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1931-1192
Print ISSN
0161-7435
Pages
pp. 13-23
Launched on MUSE
2016-10-05
Open Access
No
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