Literalising Metaphor in the Poetry of Robert Southwell <sup>1</sup>
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McKee, C. (2022). Literalising Metaphor in the Poetry of Robert Southwell <sup>1</sup>. Renaissance Studies https://doi.org/10.1111/rest.12819
Abstract: This article focuses on a distinctive feature of Robert Southwell's poetic technique, namely, his approach to metaphor. I argue that a number of Southwell's metaphors have a surprisingly literal quality where their vehicles are given greater prominence than their tenors. For instance, in my reading of ‘The Burning Babe’ and ‘Christ's Bloody Sweat’, I draw attention to how the metaphor of ‘the fires of love’ comes to describe the literal burning of recusant Catholics in Elizabethan England. Here, the intense feeling figured by the tenor is actually secondary to the burning evoked by the vehicle – an inversion of the usual operation of metaphor. I connect this approach to Southwell's political context as a dissident poet, showing that our tendency to look past the vehicles of metaphors to their referents allowed him to hide political statements in plain sight. I also highlight how ‘literalising’ metaphors served Southwell's aesthetic project to reform the neo‐Petrarchan love lyric in service of religious ends. Selecting certain hyperbolic metaphors from amorous verse, Southwell charged these platitudes with new force by making them literal and so uncovering darker meanings within them.
Original Article, Original Articles, metaphor, religious poetry, Robert Southwell
External DOI: https://doi.org/10.1111/rest.12819
This record's URL: https://www.repository.cam.ac.uk/handle/1810/337853