Activity: Participating in or organising an event types › Participation in conference
Preservation and the Flood in Early Modern Devotional Literature
In A Silver Watch-bell (1605), Thomas Tymme offers a meditation on how to live a good life, using the metaphor of the watch-bell to figure the process of calling even the ‘most profane worldling, and carelesse liver’ to salvation and awakening ‘the most drowsie harted sinners’ to grace. In the work’s third chapter, which concerns ‘the general day of Doome’, he likens the cataclysmic events described in the Book of Revelation to a sea tempest, which can be contemplated as preparatory in kind, if not scale, and asks his readers to imagine the actions of a mariner in the midst of a hostile sea. As a microcosm of a world undone and made uninhabitable, the sea storm is offered as a preview of the elemental chaos of the apocalypse and the spiritual challenges this would pose. Fear of drowning acts as a prompt for the repentance of sin: a ‘thousand times happie and blessed’, he writes, will that man be ‘whose conscience in that time wil make them merry and glad’. By thinking about Tymme’s analogies alongside prayers written for mariners, such as those of Thomas Dekker, published as Foure Birds of Noahs Arke (1609), this paper will raise questions concerning ecological resilience when the oikos is at sea. The fragile man-made habitat of the mariner heightens awareness of temporality and contingent events and the ever-present proximity to water invites retellings of Noah’s flood; actions and their consequences are intensified in microcosm, prompting reflections on preservation, agency and ritual.