Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts

Degree Level





Dempsey, Sean

Committee Member/Reader

Coon, Lynda

Committee Member/Second Reader

Hinrichsen, Lisa

Committee Member/Third Reader

Bouchillon, Brandon


Often the techniques of the said and the unsaid work together. This paper will explore ways in which poets embrace iconophilic or iconoclastic postures toward divine poiesis. One objective will be to focus on the arrangement of an abundance of images into itineraries and poetic landscapes. Another objective will be to demonstrate how these patterns of cultivation can be related to a divine poiesis. Through poetry, there are ways of attending to, reflecting on, and contemplating divine images that can return us to forms of participation with the sacred. First examining poetic attention, I identify poets who demonstrate an attachment to rhythms of the divine voice through what the poet William Wordsworth refers to in his poem “Expostulation and Reply” as a kind of “wise passiveness,” to either sacramental or sublime images. Then in poetic reflection, I identify the poetic cognitive return to divine ideas, using language to grasp “something as was it is” (Taylor 6). Subverting the adverse effects of becoming mesmerized by the abundance of images in modernity, poets model active ways the individual may grasp the original divine idea as it appears in its original form. Finally, in contemplation, poets evidence the voice of the divine, representing in the poetic landscape the “force capable of bringing about fluctuations in reality” and as “a force independent of one’s desire to elevate it (Stevens viii).” Beyond even the human production of images is evidence of the divine voice or unalterable patterns of the universe. Thus, I will look to the work of John Donne, Gerard Manley Hopkins, and Samuel Taylor Coleridge, for representations of a devotional return to the sacred. In addition, providing a necessary contrast for navigating the poetic landscape is the iconoclastic work of John Keats, Percy Bysshe Shelly, and T.S. Eliot. These poets lean more toward the apophatic and for them the deep truth may indeed be imageless. Nevertheless, although the rhythms of modernity may encourage us to become passive to the hypnotic qualities of reproduced images, in a variety of ways both sets of poets can help us recognize and recover ways of reorienting ourselves within the world.


Ecopoetics, divine attention, divine reflection, divine contemplation, poiesis, sacramental poetics