The Catholic Culture Podcast: 92 – Claudel’s Cosmic Vision


Dec 2, 2020

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In his Five Great Odes, the great French Catholic poet
Paul Claudel (1868-1955) offers a cosmic vision in which man, in
his contemplative and poetic capacity, stands as mediator between
God and all creation.

Man, in the image of God and even more in the headship of
Christ, names all creatures, unites them in his heart, speaks for
them and offers them back to God as unified whole of which man
himself is a part: “I extend my hands to left and to right/so that
by me not one gap should exist in the perfect circle of your

Poet James Matthew Wilson compares Claudel’s cosmic and Catholic
vision to that of Tolkien, and startlingly, to one of Tolkien’s
characters: “Claudel’s Odes show him to be a new
Tom Bombadil, who moves through the world without irony because he
has already transcended the jaded and impoverished vision typical
of the modern age and entered with joy into an experience of the
universal and the eternal.”

This is an interview with Jonathan Geltner, translator of a new
English edition of Claudel’s Odes.


Five Great Odes

Episode mentioned: “Structure and Freedom” with Mark Christopher

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