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His Confession by the Archpoet | Analysis

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: English Literature
Wordcount: 954 words Published: 14th Dec 2020

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“Seething over inwardly With fierce indignation, In my bitterness of soul, Hear my declaration. I am of one element, Levity my matter,” (line1-6)

I choose ‘His Confession’, Written by The Archpoet, not much is known about this pen name, mostly he is just known as a medieval Latin poet. It is estimated that he was alive between the times of 1159 and 1167. Ten poems, all written in Latin, have been attributed to the Archpoet. Of these, the best known is ‘His Confession’. But even without knowing the poet's name we can learn a lot about his persona from his writings. I will be looking into the themes and symbolism that are located throughout this poem.

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In all of the poems written by the Archpoet, his theme is limited, but he supplements them with a recurrence of implication to biblical, Roman and Christian text, mostly written with humor and mockery. There is an abundance of symbolism in this poem, the author talks of the ‘sapient’ and how it is their duty ‘to sit firmly upon the rock’ this points to the fact that the one taking the confession is thinking of himself as one that is greater or higher than those who confess to their ‘sins’.

The genre of this poem is called courtly poetry, giving it an automatic theme of honor and valor but for this particular poem, it is for personal gain and glory rather than for the namesake of a family or country.

Poetry is powerful and it can affect all generations. From love to anger to sorrow, poetry can make us feel anything, it is unlike anything else. Poetry helps us understand and appreciate the world around us and sheds a light on things we would not usually see.

This poem is very unique, the author gives the illusion of agreeing with his condemners, while at the same time mocking them. He calls things as he sees them and calls himself a fool in their eyes, for realizing the world around him and not relying solely on faith. Throughout the poem he mocks and agrees all the while illustrating how much happier and freer, he is the essence of human happiness. “But the method of religious orthodoxy is to constrain freedom, thus producing unhappiness.” (Godman) The poet believes that man should favor what is natural, instead of acting on what is unnatural.

He is called to renounce things that are ‘sin’ thus stating,

“Since the soul is in me dead, Better save the skin.” (line39-40)

Making this wonderfully ironic, advocating a fake confession so seriously, all the while posing issues of moral identity and conscience. If his enemies are correct, his soul is dead, so the speaker might as well save his skin, and indulge himself if the habits he is forced to confess to, his drunkenness, lust, and greed. “Down the broad way do I go, Young and unregretting, Wrap me in my vices up, Virtue all forgetting,” (line 33-36)

This irony makes me believe that he doesn’t actually agree with his oppressors.

“Hither, thither, masterless Ship upon the sea, Wandering through the ways of air,” The poet ends by agreeing with all that the antagonist says he is, a ‘sinner’ but to him, he is far more free.

‘because the morality to which he subscribes was, or became, monastic, their reflection also led them to allied problems of lying, dissimulation, and hypocrisy in a religious context… the Archpoet took fictio to its limit. There the dividing line between irony and blasphemy blurred (Godman).’ Thus, the beginning of spiritual sophistry.

The poet's strange fabrication of his confession creates reality in a sense, the reality of his own ‘sins’ are only seen in his feigned confession.

The style of writing that the Archpoet uses is certainly more crude and coarse than what would be considered ‘traditional.’ His words can sometimes give, ‘offense to those who were inclined to be scandalized by sexual explicitness… but his vulgarity can be subtle… his satire can be cruel but is often expressed with grace and wit. (Hugo Primas)’

When the Archpoet answers his antagonist, he answers in explanations instead of apologies for his many ‘sins.’ The poem seems to be a defense rather than a confession, he is answering for his unacceptable behavior rather than actually confessing and asking for forgiveness. In the end he says, “Let whoe’er hath known His own heart and found it clean, Cast at me the stone,” basically he is saying let him who has committed no sin first cast blame.

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In conclusion, the Arch poet has done a wonderful job of expressing his theme through symbolism. The illusion, the mockery, the irony, all wrapped together to create a piece that will make you think, while not being too difficult to read. ‘His Confession’ causes us to think about the issues of our morality and conscience. Will we reevaluate our beliefs? Will we do what is considered to be right ‘and never having lived, Die to be immortal.” (lines 101-102)

Citation page

  • Hugh Primas and the Archpoet. (1994). Retrieved from https://books.google.com/books?hl=en&lr=&id=nJssE3yeuEoC&oi=fnd&pg=PR9&dq=the+archpoet+'his+confession'&ots=tUnJlsxz10&sig=zbPrEQFjOEphYQZYeIYKa-lqtJk#v=onepage&q=the archpoet 'his confession'&f=false
  • Paradoxes of Conscience in the High Middle Ages. (2009). Retrieved from https://books.google.com/books?hl=en&lr=&id=wa-7hJ543pcC&oi=fnd&pg=PR9&dq=the+archpoet+'his+confession'&ots=bbda2Fzwb9&sig=CkZbvjFqKrC2sBHax1SfokrURGs#v=onepage&q=the archpoet 'his confession'&f=false
  • “His Confession.” Google, Google, docs.google.com/document/d/e/2PACX-1vQtdKLoCHN_DHU1PytFAHY23JyE3YQNreBRWjTYFQc-CmGwPUAxLZyH3phnSTs3jQ9CJCiLNHB9ZsbI/pub.


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