Christopher Smart’s Alphabetical Imagination
Christopher Smart wrote Jubilate Agno, his long and fragmentary poem of praise, while confined for insanity in St. Luke’s Hospital. The poem is not governed by any obvious formal or narrative logic. In this discussion doctoral candidate Molly Clark will share with Professor Michael Scott how it is instead governed by an “alphabetical poetics,” an associative structure and progression dictated by the alphabet and the atomic construction of names and words, rather than strictly by sense. In this way, the poem is inscribed with God’s handwriting, making legible the multiplicity of creation.