Styles of Belief, Devotion,
Picturing the Religious Life
conflicts intensified in England over issues
of doctrine, liturgy, worship, and church
organization, the religious poetry of the
early seventeenth century and various pictorial
images represented the religious life in
terms that spoke to these conflicts.
The frontispiece to the Authorized Version
of the Bible (1611), popularly known as the
King James version, at once identified the
king with the holy book of Christendom and
also, with its twin images of Moses and the
high priest Aaron flanking the title, firmly
asserted the role of the bishops in the Church
of England (the bishops claimed descent from
Aaron) against Presbyterianism.
Images from the popular emblem books of
the early seventeenth century drew sometimes
on continental Catholic and sometimes on
Protestant traditions. The first two here
are of the Jesuit "school of the heart" kind,
specifically the Schola Cordis by
Benedict van Haeften (1629); they are sometimes
suggestive of George Herbert's "heart" imagery.
The representation of both the Divine child
and Anima (the soul) working on the heart
suggests human cooperation in the work of
redemption. By contrast, the next three heart
images are from the Emblemata Sacra by
the Lutheran Daniel Cramer; often suggestive
for both Donne and Herbert, they represent
the hand of God acting alone and powerfully
on the human heart.
The two emblems below invite specific comparisons.
The image of the risen Christ in the heart — suggesting
the New Testament church replacing the Old
Testament Temple, which stands in the background — is
from Zacharias Heyns's Emblemes Chrestienes (1625)
and illustrates Herbert's governing concept
in his volume of religious poetry, The
Temple. The other image, originally from
the Jesuit Hermannus Hugo's Pia Desideria (1624)
and included in several Protestant collections,
invites comparison with Marvell's Dialogue
between the Soul and the Body (NAEL 8, 1.1699–1700).
The famous Bernini sculpture of Saint Teresa
in ecstasy with the Seraph seems much like
the conception the Roman Catholic poet Crashaw
attributes to a painter in The Flaming
Heart (NAEL 8, 1.1651–53).