Year

2008

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

Department

Faculty of Creative Arts

Abstract

This thesis lies between the fields of literature and religion. The thesis argues that Jal lu'l-Dín Rúmi, Sant Kabír, Matsuo Bashó and William Blake are not only "mystic" and "symbolic" poets, but that they have enough in common to justify the creation of a new, more well-defined area of interdisciplinary research between the fields of literature and religious studies. This thesis refers to them as "perceptive poets" and aims to define this term.

The selected poets represent mystical branches of Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism and Christianity. The thesis is, therefore, to some extent a comparative study of Sufism, Náthism, Zen and the Gnostic tradition. The combination of poets allows for comparison of symbolism between diverse literary traditions, and also promotes examination of the crucial relationship between silent mystic experience and the creation of symbolic forms of writing.

Current literary taxonomy does not allow for satisfactory comparative studies of poets who originate from different religious and literary backgrounds, but who in fact share profoundly similar spiritual insight. No particular field of literary studies simultaneously and completely: accommodates for the poet whose first priority is spiritual life; incorporates poets from both East and West; acknowledges the difference between the mystic state of expanded consciousness and the unconscious; and recognises the relationship between the "Perceptive Faculty" affected by certain mystic experiences and the "Imaginative Faculty" associated with the creation of symbols.

This research aims to narrow the field of "mystic poetry" and enable distinction between the poet who has experienced expanded consciousness and the poet who displays random mystical tendencies. Through a comparative study of these four prominent poets, who have each been described as both "mystic" and "symbolic", the thesis identifies six common characteristics. These points of association are brought together to create a new framework suitable for the examination of similar poets from various religious and literary traditions.

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