Culture and Cosmos is a peer-reviewed academic journal in the history of astrology and cultural astronomy published by the Sophia Centre Press in partnership with the Sophia Centre for the Study of Cosmology in Culture, Faculty of Humanitiies and the Performing Arts, at the University of Wales Trinity Saint David

We are currently seeking submissions for future volumes of Culture and Cosmos.

Volume 20

Poetry Creation as Space of Union between Natural and Supernatural: A Reading of The House of Fame

Gerardina Antelmi


Cosmos, planets and astrology occupy a significant place in medieval dream poems, which have been analysed as models of cosmological dream allegories, supernatural voyages, and intellectual journeys exploring the universe. The dreamer often soars above the Earth acquiring a privileged view of the Earth and the Cosmos. However, it seems to me that similarities between the ascending structure of some medieval literary works and the mystical ascent towards the mystical marriage with the Divine has been overlooked.

In this paper I will examine Chaucer's The House of Fame. After reviewing the stages recognized by medieval mystics to seek mystical union with the Divine, I will identify specific linguistic markers employed by Chaucer, taken from the language of mysticism, which serve as signposts for the dreamer's ascent to the sky. I will then illustrate how the dream mirrors the mystical journey, how the Introduction of the poem can be interpreted as a microcosm and the three books of the poem as macrocosm.

I will argue, finally, that the ascent of the dreamer-poet to the sky to the House of Fame represents the poet bridging the material and the supernatural, Earth and Heaven - and that the dreamer-poet's possible 'stellification' symbolizes that poetry is a sacred space in which this union becomes possible.

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