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Medieval Poetics and Social PracticeResponding to the Work of Penn R. Szittya$
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Seeta Chaganti

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780823243242

Published to Fordham Scholarship Online: January 2013

DOI: 10.5422/fordham/9780823243242.001.0001

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Christian Poetics and Orthodox Practice: Meaning and Implication in Six Carols by James Ryman, O.F.M.

Christian Poetics and Orthodox Practice: Meaning and Implication in Six Carols by James Ryman, O.F.M.

Chapter:
(p.53) Christian Poetics and Orthodox Practice: Meaning and Implication in Six Carols by James Ryman, O.F.M.
Source:
Medieval Poetics and Social Practice
Author(s):

John C. Hirsh

Publisher:
Fordham University Press
DOI:10.5422/fordham/9780823243242.003.0004

The intervention of friars into different arenas of culture could give rise to unique and subtle poetics. Hirsh turns our attention to James Ryman, a fifteenth-century Franciscan who was also a poet and musician. Hirsh argues that while the simplicity of Ryman's songs and carols generally relegates him to a place below the critical radar, this very simplicity in fact “enabled both composer and audience to become engaged in a powerful and considered spirituality.” By avoiding overt response to Lollard and other reformist dissent, Ryman's carols can “construc[t] a nuanced representation of certain central Christian teachings in a way that responds to Franciscan thought and spirituality.” In the six carols that Hirsh examines, syntax, form, and imagery “gently reflect” rather than aggressively argue. This tonal strategy allows Ryman's carols to articulate a critical understanding of hypostatic union while at the same time sustaining “a degree of poetic wonder.”

Keywords:   Carols, James Ryman, Lollard, Franciscan, Poetics, Theology, medieval

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