June 1st Tennyson and the insights of doubt,
June 8th Gwyneth Lewis and the Insights of science
Over the centuries that St. Edwards has stood at the heart of Cambridge, the
city has been home to some great poets whose work can give us
new and imaginative insights into our faith. Over the last five weeks starting Wednesday May 11th I have been exploring some of the insights that these poets
can offer to us now. Today I conclude the series with a talk on the contemporary Welsh poet Gwyneth Lewis.
Gwyneth Lewis, like all the poets in our series was a student at Cambridge, indeed she recently returned to her College Girton, as a visiting fellow. She is though, the only one of our poets to have been poet in residence at a school of physics and astronomy, or to have formally acknowleged a Nobel Laureate for his advice on stem cell technology, and the influence it had on the composition of her poetry. In the lecture below I look at the range of her poetry, its techniques concerns and insights, concentrating especially on her gift for discerning significant metaphor in the findings of science, and for expressing the exhilaration and wonder at the core of ‘hard science’. I also try to show show how her poetry develops and extends the themes of love, prayer, elegy, and transfiguration we have been exploring in our other four poets. The first two poems I explore can be found in her collection Chaotic Angels, and the poetry with which my talk concludes is drawn from her recent epic A Hospital Odyssey. Both books are essential reading.
As usual you can hear the talk by clicking on the ‘play’ button if it appears in your browser or by clicking on the title of the talk.