On Spirituality and Transcendence

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter (peer-reviewed)peer-review


This chapter focuses on Paterson's treatment of organised religion, spirituality, and death, and considers how they alter through his career. Raising issues of belief, it examines how the poetry draws on autobiography, especially Paterson's own early loss of faith, and explores a number of alternatives to Christian theology and Western philosophy, including tenets of Buddhist thought and practice, and anti-humanist work, such as John Gray's Straw Dogs. The chapter also considers the influence of classical order, organisation, and harmony on Paterson's sense of the mutability of scholarly and aesthetic achievements, and the random vicissitudes of a godless world, especially his poetic deployments of literary, archival and historical error. It argues that Paterson's agnostic worldview allows him to gather seemingly contradictory facets of spiritual and philosophical traditions without judgement or an insistent urge for unification.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationDon Paterson
Subtitle of host publicationContemporary Critical Essays
EditorsNatalie Pollard
Place of PublicationEdinburgh
PublisherEdinburgh University Press
Number of pages16
ISBN (Electronic)9780748669424
ISBN (Print)9780748669417
Publication statusPublished - 2014


  • Don Paterson
  • British poetry
  • British poets
  • organised religion
  • death
  • John Gray
  • classical order
  • godless world


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