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date: 15 December 2019

Abstract and Keywords

Bunyan is not thought of as a good poet by many critics, but this chapter argues that his purpose in writing poetry has been misunderstood. He is trying to redefine poetry away from courtly rhetoric, and instead uses it to create passion, and to inspire a discourse that may lead to the salvation of sinners. Bunyan tends to use a rhetoric which adds emotion to mere description, for example in his writing on hell. Nonconformist verse, including hymns, tends to address children, in part because, by being more directly emotional, poetry is thought to appeal to children. This is why Bunyan uses emblem-like forms, which primarily attempt to convey ‘Truth’. Poetry is seen here as a passion-inducing discourse, which can ‘awaken’ readers, although ultimately it cannot save them.

Keywords: Nonconformist verse, rhetoric, passion, truth, hymns, hell, children

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