Poetic & Sacred

The first in a two-part meditation on the poetic, the sacred, and the Enlightenment. With references to William Blake and Nicolás Gómez Dávila.

The second part of this discussion is here.

I Approaching the Sacred

I begin with Blake’s first lines of “Auguries of Innocence.” This is part of a longer response to a listener who claims to have no sense of the sacred.

A discussion of Blake’s lines helps us to understand how the poetic vision relates to the sacred. Through meditation on his lines we can lift ourselves out of the technocratic single vision of everyday and experience a glimpse of wholeness. A sense of the sacred.

I then offer a response to those who seem to misunderstand my use of religious language.

After this, I compare and contrast the language of sacred tradition and the language of poetry.

I suggest that the sacred tradition and poetic vision are two sides of the same coin. With this view we can actually see more clearly why the Enlightenment, with its scientific and technological worldview, treats them both as debased currency. Consequently, we may also see why they are so valuable to those of us exiled in flatland.

II Poetic Rebellion Against the Enlightenment

We then discuss a passage from the ‘glosses’ (Escolios) of Nicolás Gómez Dávila.

Dávila first argues that modern literature is not a satanic rebellion against God, as it might seem. Rather, he sees it as a rebellion against the nullification of Christianity and the sacred. Thus, it is a rebellion against the Enlightenment. In particular, he cites many of the poets that we have cited on this program. E.g. Goethe, Blake, Hölderlin, Yeats.

This argument also takes the position that Christianity did not emerge intact from the eighteenth century. We explore what Dávila likely means.

In conclusion, Dávila’s insights help us to build a bridge from the discussion in season one of this program to season two. Namely, that poetic vision as a response to technological flattening is not separate from a poetic response to the loss of the sacred.


A bit more background on Nicolás Gómez Dávila for the English-speaking audience.

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