The ‘turn’ to faith

Of turning. 67.

Wilt thou use turners craft still? ye by my trouth.

Much thrift and most suretie in turners craft growth.

Halfe turne or whole turne, where turners be turning.

Turnying keepes turners from hangyng and burning.

John Heywoods ‘Of turning’ from his Epygrams (1562)

This short poem by John Heywood neatly encapsulates one of the central anxieties about conversion – that those who turned merely did so to save their skins, rather than their souls. The potential for a convert to continue to ‘revolve’, turning from one faith only to re-turn at a later point, was a very real one: the convert and poet William Alabaster famously vacillated from Protestant to Catholic and back again.  The image of movement at the heart of Heywood’s poem also recalls how the manipulation of language undertaken by the poet or rhetorician is another kind of ‘turn’. ‘Turner’s craft’ is perhaps ultimately employed by the writer who records the faith experiences of the convert in order to persuade the reader to embark upon a ‘turn’ of their own.

Advertisements

We are keen to hear your views on what we post here. Questions and comments are very welcome. And if there's something you think we should write about, leave a comment or send us an email (conversionnarratives@york.ac.uk).

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s