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The Rhetoric of the Conscience in Donne, Herbert, and Vaughan$
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Ceri Sullivan

Print publication date: 2008

Print ISBN-13: 9780199547845

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2008

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199547845.001.0001

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Peevish Weariness, aposiopesis, and the Irresolute Conscience

Peevish Weariness, aposiopesis, and the Irresolute Conscience

(p.157) 5 Peevish Weariness, aposiopesis, and the Irresolute Conscience
The Rhetoric of the Conscience in Donne, Herbert, and Vaughan

Ceri Sullivan (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

This chapter studies the frequent use of images of dust or fragments as an attack on the foundation of judicious dialogue, mutual engagement. An effective response to enforced attention is flabby uninterest. Poems break up those selves which should be focused on God. Both the image of distraction and its rhetorical formulation, aposiopesis (breaking off of speech), demonstrate that being lectured at results in a conscience which turns a deaf ear. This is neither acedia (torpor in devotion) nor melancholy, but boredom at an all-too-present divine. Although the fallen conscience acknowledges it goes to bits if not pulled together by God, it is irritated at the requirement to attend to him — even despite the numerous professional aids to listening the period boasts. Accordingly, a very aetiolated desire to hear God's words comes out repeatedly in a fretful comedy of weariness.

Keywords:   boredom, acedia, melancholy, dust, deaf, listening, fragments

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