Manuduction and the Passion : the grammar of participation in selected seventeenth-century Good Friday lyric poems.


Access rights

Worldwide access.
Access changed 8/16/21.

Journal Title

Journal ISSN

Volume Title



Drawing on the distinction between a “grammar of participation” and a “grammar of representation,” this study focuses on the Good Friday lyric poetry of George Herbert, Robert Herrick, John Donne, and Aemilia Lanyer. The argument first identifies four distinguishing features that, when taken together, constitute a grammar of participation rather than a grammar of representation (as suggested by the work of Peter Candler). A grammar of participation is: 1) dialogical rather than monological, 2) temporal rather than spatialized, 3) communicative rather than discrete, 4) itinerant rather than cartographic. A text that relies on a grammar of participation will lead its readers along a particular ductus (path) toward a given skopos (persuasive end). In these poems, the skopos typically bears a particular relation to the human telos identified as eschatological beatitude. This study demonstrates the unique insights that arise from relying upon a grammar that is appropriate to these poems. Through reading Herbert’s opening poems in “The Church” while assuming a grammar of participation, we understand that The Temple begins preparing its readers for the process of sanctification in the rest of the text by leading them through identification with Christ’s suffering and death. The closing poems of Herrick’s His Noble Numbers lead the reader toward acceptance of suffering and death for the sake of union with Christ. The three Donne poems examined each manuduct the reader toward God specifically by positioning the reader as a member of the Church. Finally, the argument concludes by briefly examining Lanyer’s Salve Deus Rex Judæorum as an example of a poem which only partially relies on a grammar of participation.



Manuduction. Seventeenth-century. Poetry. John Donne. George Herbert. Robert Herrick. Aemilia Lanyer. Grammar of participation. Dialogical. Temporal. Communicative. Itinerant. Religion. Good Friday. Passion. Lyric.