Faith, Hope and Poetry: Theology and the Poetic Imagination

Faith, Hope and Poetry, by Malcolm Guite, is a new book in the Ashgate Studies in Theology and the Arts series.

Presenting a series of critical appreciations of English poetry from Anglo-Saxon times to the present day, Malcolm Guite applies the insights of poetry to contemporary issues and the contribution poetry can make to our religious knowing and the way we “do Theology”.

This book is not solely concerned with overtly religious poetry. Developing an original analysis and application of the poetic vision of Coleridge, Larkin and Seamus Heaney amongst others, Guite builds towards a substantial theology of imagination and provides unique insights into truth which complement and enrich more strictly rational ways of knowing.


‘Malcolm Guite, in this wide-ranging and original study, helps us see how poetry is – if we let ourselves be drawn in and shaped by it – a means of making connections with the fundamental way things are, and so too a way of connecting with a God who is himself a pattern of ‘connection’ as Trinity, open to share the divine reality with created life. Here are materials for a profound theology of the imagination, developed in dialogue with writers both familiar and unfamiliar, beautifully combining close reading with wide horizons.’   The Most Revd Dr Rowan Williams

‘No one with an interest in the history of poetry inspired by the Christian Faith can fail to be impressed with this book. Malcolm Guite has offered us an immensely rich work, ranging from the 8th Century Dream of the Rood, to Seamus Heaney via Shakespeare, John Davies, John Donne and George Herbert, in which the truth-telling available only in poetry is brought into the service of mature theological vision. It is quite simply both astounding and outstanding.’   The Rt Revd Professor Stephen Sykes

‘Malcolm Guite has the rare gift of being able to open up the depths of poetry and theology together. He is alert to form, content and context, and above all to the nuances of poetic visions of God, the complexities of faith, and spiritual transformations.’   David Ford, Regius Professor of Divinity, University of Cambridge, UK

‘To enter Malcolm Guite’s Faith, Hope & Poetry is to discover a new continent with dazzling possibilities, a landscape where scholarship, vivid faith, word craft, imaginative insight, reflection and careful research are all available at a level that is revelatory to both academics and lay readers alike. Guite, not only an ordained Anglican priest but a poet and scholar of the highest order, invites us to this fresh feast-a summons that will widen our own worlds immeasurably.’   Luci Shaw, Author, Harvesting Fog – New Poems, Breath for the Bones: Imagination, Art, & Spirit.

About the Author: Malcolm Guite is poet, priest and academic living and working in Cambridge, His recent writings include ‘What Do Christians Believe? (2006), “Poetry, Playfulness and Truth…” a chapter on the theology of A Midsummer Night’s Dream and The Tempest in Faithful Performances: Enacting Christian Tradition, ed. Trevor Hart and Stephen Guthrie (2007) and six poems in Live Simply (2008). His chapter on the poetry of CS Lewis appears in the Cambridge Companion to CS Lewis (2010)

Visit Malcom Guite’s blog

More about Faith, Hope and Poetry

More about the Ashgate Studies in Theology and the Arts series

One thought on “Faith, Hope and Poetry: Theology and the Poetic Imagination

  1. Charles Twombly

    Malcolm Guite’s new book is a lovely read. Beyond that, it’s important. The divorce between imagination and reason has had serious spiritual, cultural conseqences. This book addresses that breakdown with some powerful, insightful readings of great poetry and offers persuasive ways of bringing reconciliation. I would urge Ashgate to publish a more affordable soft-cover edition. It would be a welcome addition to the “theology and lit” courses that have growing popularity in colleges and universities.


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