Reserve and physical imagery in the Tractarian poetry of Isaac Williams (1802-65) - British Library Research Repository
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Reserve and physical imagery in the Tractarian poetry of Isaac Williams (1802-65)



This article reflects on the theological significance of Isaac Williams’s published poetry and its contribution to the Oxford, or Tractarian, Movement in the nineteenth century Church of England. For Williams, poetry was an important form of expression for him as it encouraged the use imagery drawn from the physical world to explore theological themes in an indirect way. This was in line with the Tractarian emphasis on the doctrine of ‘reserve’, an important aspect of the Oxford Movement and the theme of two of Williams’s contributions to the series of the Tracts for the Times. After considering the relationship between Williams’s poetry and the principle of reserve, this article explores how he used physical imagery to deal with three important aspects of Tractarian belief in his poetry, namely the importance of the eucharist, the apostolic succession and the authority of tradition.


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  • Resource type

    Journal article

  • Institution
    • British Library

  • Organisational unit
    • Reference Services

  • Journal title
    • Studies in Church History

  • Volume
    • 48

  • Pagination
    • 246-258

  • Publisher
    • Cambridge University Press

  • Place of publication
    • Cambridge, UK

  • ISSN
    • 0424-2084

  • eISSN
    • 2059-0644

  • Official URL
  • Rights statement
  • DOI