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Poetry and Spirituality with Prof. Lance Butler

10 December, 2020.7:30 pm-9:00 pm

Lance Butler leads a poetry and spirituality workshop at the sir arthur conan doyle centre
Lance Butler leads a poetry and spirituality workshop at the sir arthur conan doyle centre

Spirituality Workshop


Poetry & Spirituality


10/12/2020. 7.30pm until 9.00pm. Free Introductory Session.


Consider the Harmonious Relationship Between Poetry and Spirituality

Our Future Chair, Professor Lance Butler invites you to help form a small group to discuss poetry as a means to present spirituality. Poetry is a kind of alchemy that transforms whatever it touches into something more valuable. That explains why it is the perfect vehicle for love and for spirituality. In the case of love, poetry can express a transformative feeling and present it in its transformed state. It can do the same with the spiritual which is a range of experience even harder to express and even more transformative.
In this first lecture-seminar, you will look at texts which attempt to present deeper realities through the medium of verse. Lance will be asking how they do it, what new meanings are hinted at and and why the same thing can’t be done in prose.
This first free session is open to all. However, numbers will be limited to 10 in the new year to allow time for ample discussion in each class.

What to Expect on this Workshop

We will look at poems by poets such as Gerard Manley Hopkins, T.S Eliot, John Donne, Emily Dickinson and Kathleen Raine.
If you sign up for this Zoom meeting please do so a couple of days before Thursday 10th December so that we can e-mail you copies of the poems. There will be an opportunity for discussion once Lance has finished the lecture.
To give you a taste of what you will be doing on this workshop, please read the following poem by the Welsh poet R.S.Thomas (1913 – 2000):
I praise you because
you are artist and scientist
in one. When I am somewhat
fearful of your power,
your ability to work miracles
with a set-square, I hear
you murmuring to yourself
in a notation Beethoven
dreamed of but never achieved.
You run off your scales of
rain water and sea water, play
the chords of the morning
and evening light, sculpture
with shadow, join together leaf
by leaf, when spring
comes, the stanzas of
an immense poem. You speak
all languages and none,
answering our most complex
prayers with the simplicity
of a flower, confronting
us, when we would domesticate you
to our uses, with the rioting
viruses under our lens.
It’s not approriate to extensively analyse the poetry here. However, one might ask who the ‘you’ in this poem is and what Thomas’s method is as his lines build slowly towards a strong conclusion that is at once ambiguous and challenging but not hopeless.
We hope you join us for our preliminary session. If it is popular we hope to put on a ten-week course in the new year.

How to Access Online Events

Our online classes and events are run via ZOOM. If you would like to know how to book our online events, please click here to watch a short video tutorial.


Professor Lance Butler Future Chair of the Sir Arthur Conan Doyle Centre

About Lance Butler

Future Chair of the Sir Arthur Conan Doyle Centre

Professor Lance Butler taught literature, literary theory and stylistics at the Universities of Stirling in the UK, and Pau in France before retiring to Edinburgh recently. He is the author of books on Samuel Beckett and Philosophy, on Thomas Hardy, on the Victorian Loss of Faith and on Stylistics. 

Since discovering the Scientific and Medical Network in the 1980s he has been researching the question of ‘life after death’ and what is known about the possibility of the Survival of Consciousness beyond our final moments.



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10 December, 2020
7:30 pm-9:00 pm
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The Sir Arthur Conan Doyle Centre
25 Palmerston Place
Edinburgh, EH12 5AP United Kingdom


The Sir Arthur Conan Doyle Centre
0131 625 0700


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