Imagining Kells: A Poetic Meditation on the Book of Kells


In 2018 I published a book of poems, The White Silhouette, that mainly focused on Christian spirituality and mysticism. At its centre was a four-part meditative poem inspired by the Book of Kells that took me nineteen years, on and off, to complete. In this essay I hope to describe my fascination with the Book of Kells and some of the themes and questions that emerged in my poem, such as: ‘Can sacred art effect a fundamental change of consciousness in the beholder?’ ‘How much does it help to be a believer to appreciate the Book of Kells?’ ‘What is the function of the Book of Kells in the twenty-first century?



James Harpur