Abstract: In two letters written shortly before she sailed from Marseille in May 1942, Simone Weil reveals the profound impact George Herbert’s ‘Love (III)’ had on her. When reciting the poem to herself during intense headaches, she had a religious experience that involved Christ descending and taking her up. This article offers a comparative case study of focused attention on poetry as a form of prayer leading to a religious experience. It offers a close reading of ‘Love (III)’ through the lens of Weil’s philosophical and spiritual writings from the last year of her life and vice-versa. The beauty of poetry on Weil’s account is analogous to the beauty of the world and hence can approach human expression of God’s will or the ineffable order of the universe.
Forum for Modern Language Studies (2022)