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The Dream of Gerontius

John Henry Newman

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Book Excerpt: 
. . .Keble, that poets are "not bound to be critics or to give a sense to what they had written,"[8] and he adds that "there must be a statute of limitations, or it would be quite a tyranny, if in an art which is the expression not of truth but of imagination and sentiment, one were obliged to stand an examination on the transient state of mind which came [10]upon one when homesick, or seasick, or in any other way sensitive or excited."

It is well to take a great poem like this without too much inquiry or analysis. If the author's intention is not evident in his poem, either he has failed to be clear, or he is consciously obscure, or we are incapable of appreciating his work. The first and second defects do not appear in "The Dream of Gerontius." The third, let us trust, does not exist in us. The notes, few in number, are intended to explain only what is not obvious.

In his "Recollections" Aubrey De Vere says: "'The Dream of Gerontius,' as Newman informed. . . Read More

Community Reviews

My initial reaction was that writers of fine prose don't necessarily make fine poets, and I wrote this off as something I needed to read.

But on rereading, the poem "takes off" once the dreamer has left his body and the journey to judgement takes place. There is some fine material in the alternati...more

I listened to a talk by Dr. Peter Kreeft on YouTube called "10 Books No One Should Be Allowed To Die Without Reading", which he had expanded to 26 books, not being able to pick just 10, and this was one. I can't thank Dr. Kreeft enough for recommending it. It is a speculation by Cardinal Newman o...more

To a non-Catholic reader, Gerontius's devotion to his Lord Almighty and the halls of heaven—that are made, we are told, not of material but of life itself—must seem puzzling, bizzare even, to say the least.

And the puzzlement does not abate; instead, it balloons, especially when Gerontius's piety...more