Christian Themes

(Literary Essentials: Christian Fiction and Nonfiction)

Throughout his writing life, Wright has made his deep and driving interest in theological issues a major focus of his poetry, expressing a belief that “the true purpose of poetry is a contemplation of the divine and its attendant mysteries.” In a revealing interview with Morgan Schuldt in 2002, he proclaimed that “Poetry is a matter of ’soul making’ as John Keats said,” and for Wright, the human soul is illuminated through the “contemplation of the divine.” In Black Zodiac, this is primarily a contemplation of landscape, the “lever of transcendence” that elevates the human above the profane. Given the disparate sources of Wright’s religious background, the poetry here depends on a search for God’s presence within every aspect of the landscape he encounters. In the opening lines of “Apologia Pro Vita Sua,” Wright sees the blossoming dogwood trees doting the landscape as a “via Dolorosa,” the path Christ walked on his way to the cross, with individual trees as “part-charred cross points.” Such images link the local with the manifestation of God on earth in human affairs, leading toward this image in the third section:

The Unknown Master of the Pure Poem walks nightly among his roses,The very garden his son laid out.Every so often he sits down. Every so often he stands back up.

The wry...

(The entire section is 483 words.)