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On Nothing

Henry, Martin (2003) On Nothing. Irish Theological Quarterly, 68 (4). p. 324.

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Abstract

A famous sonnet by the seventeenth-century Spanish poet Góngora, on the instability and inevitable decay of all human life, even the most beautiful, ends with an unforgettable evocation of the actual process itself of final human disintegration ‘into earth, smoke, dust, shadow, nothingness’ (‘en tierra, en humo, en polvo, en sombra, en nada’). The ‘extraordinary falling cadence’ (Arthur Terry) of this line, mirroring the transformation of human life on its final journey into annihilation, is clearly echoed at the end of the century by the last great poetic figure of the Spanish ‘Golden Age’, the Hieronymite Mexican nun, Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz, one of whose sonnets, describing a flattering portrait, ends with the memorable line: ‘it is a corpse, it is dust, it is shadow, it is nothing’ (‘es cadáver, es polvo, es sombra, es nada’).

Item Type: Article
Keywords: Human Disintegration
Subjects: Arts, Celtic Studies & Philosophy > Theology
Item ID: 639
Depositing User: Martin Henry
Date Deposited: 27 Jul 2007
Journal or Publication Title: Irish Theological Quarterly
Publisher: Pontifical University Maynooth
Refereed: Yes
URI:

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