The poetics of Nonconformity

I note a couple of recent items in connection with Tom Paulin, and the relationship between English Nonconformity and its poetic results. Paulin touches on it in a review of the recent edition of the letters of Ted Hughes, in which it is Hughes’ religious background which allows him to write in a “spontaneous, direct, unforced and unflinching manner.” See also a review of Paulin’s own work in the Dublin Review of Books, and most recently, Terry Eagleton on Paulin, the “Puritan at play”, and its political subtexts, in the Guardian Review.
I should be very interested to learn of any work that has tried to explore such a relation more generally, as I’m not aware of much to date. It could have interesting implications for thinking about religious poetry, but also more broadly about liturgical change and other religio-cultural issues. That a connection between background and poetic output can be made is evident from a recent article on George Barker.

See also an earlier post on William Empson.

Auden’s religion

A couple of interesting recent items on Auden. The first is the Guardian’s decision to ask Rowan Williams, a poet himself, to write a preface to the Auden booklet in their recent series. The second thing is the recent publication of the third volume of Edward Mendelson’s edition of Auden’s prose (1949-55), which covers some of the most interesting of Auden’s theological writing. It was reviewed by Frank Kermode in the LRB (subscription needed for full article)