Superficial Southwell Surmisings.

(Or, validation that online postings really do become “hey, this is interesting.” Sometimes.)

I don’t know enough about Robert Southwell to write terribly intelligently about him. He’s a fascinating Catholic martyr, and his poetry, if occasionally rough to read, works within a number of forms and genres (Petrarchan poetry, biblical commentary, devotional literature, concrete poetry, to begin). Studying him entails learning a lot about Catholicism in Protestant Elizabethan England (who doesn’t love to learn?). And he writes about gender in intriguing ways (I love the implications of the last stanza of “The Circumcision” on who shares the burden of the future Crucifixion: “With weeping eyes His mother reu’d / His smart … The payne that Jesus felt did Marye tast / His life and her’s hunge by one fatall twiste / No blowe that hitt the Sonne the mother miste”, 13-18).

We also discussed him in context of Kristeva’s theories of abjection. (Whee!)

Finally, and as one of our presenters pointed out today, Ben claimed that “so he had written that piece of his ‘The burning babe‘, he would have been content to destroy many of his” (465).

What further recommendation does one need?

24 January 2011 ~ Hamilton

Works Cited

Jonson, Ben. “Conversations with William Drummond.” Ben Jonson: The Complete Poems. Ed. George Parfitt. London: Penguin, 1996. 459-480. Print.

Southwell, Robert. “The Circumsision.” The Complete Poems of Robert Southwell. Ed. Robert Grossart. St. George’s: Private Circulation, 1872. 130-131.

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