Catholic Culture Trusted Commentary
Catholic Culture Trusted Commentary

92—Claudel’s Cosmic Vision—Jonathan Geltner

By Catholic Culture Podcast ( bio - articles - email ) | Dec 02, 2020 | In The Catholic Culture Podcast

Listen to this podcast on: Apple Podcasts | Google Podcasts | RSS Feed | YouTube Channel

This is a listener-supported podcast! Thanks for your help!

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 creations.”

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 Brandt

Theme music: “Franciscan Eyes”, written and performed by Thomas Mirus. Download the Catholic Culture Podcast soundtrack.

Thomas V. Mirus is Director of Podcasts for, hosts The Catholic Culture Podcast, and co-hosts Criteria: The Catholic Film Podcast. See full bio.

Sound Off! supporters weigh in.

All comments are moderated. To lighten our editing burden, only current donors are allowed to Sound Off. If you are a current donor, log in to see the comment form; otherwise please support our work, and Sound Off!

There are no comments yet for this item.