Epiphany is a popular literary term almost every student of literature is familiar with. It means a manifestation or a sign for something to come. Christian thinkers use this term to denote a manifestation of God’s presence in this world.
The term epiphany reminds of James Joyce who employed this word effectively in his work. He adopted this term to secular experience. He used it to signify a revelation at the time of perceiving a commonplace object. His novels and short stories consist of several epiphanies. For instance; a climatic epiphany is a sort of revelation that Stephan, in A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, experiences seeing a young girl on the seashore.
In modern poetry and fiction, this idea of epiphany is artistically used to denote the sudden flare of revelation of an ordinary object. James Joyce used it as “moments”. Later on, Shelley used it, in his Defense of Poetry (1821), to describe the most cherished moments. Wordsworth also employed this concept and his ideas revolved around some beautiful moments. For instance; his short poetry like The Solitary Reaper deals with a moment of revelation. His Prelude is full of such visionary moments:
’twas a moment’s pause, –
All that took place within me came and went
As in a moment; yet with Time it dwells,
And grateful memory, as a thing divine.