Modern Languages and Literatures, Department of


Date of this Version

December 1994


Published in Romance Notes 35:2 (Winter 1994), pp. 179–186. Used by permission of the Department of Romance Languages, The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.


Much of the concept of space in La Ceppède's Théorèmes is defined in the portrayal of Christ's body. In this text, space appears as distances or gaps—between God and humankind, grace and damnation, poet and reader—which must be overcome by contemplation of Christ's redemptive act. Within the poet's meditative framework, Christ's body acts as a physical, intermediate space in which the metaphysical principles of celestial will take form. For the meditant, the knowledge gained from reflection on Christ's body allows the transcendence from the external, physical spaces of the material world in which s/he lives, to the internal, spiritual spaces of the divine world to which s/he aspires. Generically, La Ceppède's depiction of Christ's body is often revealed in the poetic form of the blason, a lyric subgenre which itself plays on the dynamics between the external, physical description of the initial image or blason, and the more abstract, metaphysical interpretation of what is ultimately symbolized or blasonné. This paper will explore the relationship between the public spaces of the body and the private spaces of the heart and mind as illustrated in La Ceppède's adaptation of blason. La Ceppède depicts Christ's body as a physical, public text, the reading and contemplation of which enable the dévot to accede to a more intimate, private link with God based on prayer and worship. The study begins with a brief history and definition of blason, then moves to specific textual analysis of sonnets dealing with Christ's eyes and hands.