Literature: October 2002 Archives

A Tidbit for the Season


By way of an apology (in the modern connotation of the word, not the formal sense one might find here in St. Blogs). From one of the most wonderful and beautiful of the works by a man whose nearly every work was a marvel. Tell me the tale and the teller and whereabouts one may find it.

 Ye elves of hills, brooks, standing lakes, and groves;   And ye, that on the sands with printless foot   Do chase the ebbing Neptune and do fly him   When he comes back; you demi-puppets, that   By moonshine do the green sour ringlets make    Whereof the ewe not bites; and you, whose pastime   Is to make midnight mushrooms; that rejoice   To hear the solemn curfew; by whose aid,—   Weak masters though ye be—I have bedimm’d   The noontide sun, call’d forth the mutinous winds,   And ’twixt the green sea and the azur’d vault   Set roaring war: to the dread-rattling thunder   Have I given fire and rifted Jove’s stout oak    With his own bolt: the strong-bas’d promontory   Have I made shake; and by the spurs pluck’d up   The pine and cedar: graves at my command   Have wak’d their sleepers, op’d, and let them forth   By my so potent art. But this rough magic   I here abjure; and, when I have requir’d   Some heavenly music,—which even now I do,—   To work mine end upon their senses that    This airy charm is for, I’ll break my staff,   Bury it certain fathoms in the earth,   And, deeper than did ever plummet sound,   I’ll drown my book. 

And because I cannot resist one further:

  Now my charms are all o’erthrown, And what strength I have ’s mine own; Which is most faint: now, ’tis true, I must be here confin’d by you, Or sent to Naples. Let me not, Since I have my dukedom got And pardon’d the deceiver, dwell In this bare island by your spell; But release me from my bands With the help of your good hands. Gentle breath of yours my sails Must fill, or else my project fails, Which was to please. Now I want Spirits to enforce, art to enchant; And my ending is despair, Unless I be reliev’d by prayer, Which pierces so that it assaults Mercy itself and frees all faults. As you from crimes would pardon’d be, Let your indulgence set me free. 
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More on St. Teresa


Like St. Joan of Arc, our Saint of the day has a propensity for showing up in the oddest places. Witness this:

from Middlemarch "Prelude"
George Eliot

Who that cares much to know the history of man, and how the mysterious mixture behaves under the varying experiments of Time, has not dwelt, at least briefly, on the life of Saint Theresa, has not smiled with some gentleness at the thought of the little girl walking forth one morning hand-in-hand with her still smaller brother, to go and seek martyrdom in the country of the Moors? Out they toddled from rugged Avila, wide-eyed and helpless-looking as two fawns, but with human hearts, already beating to a national idea; until domestic reality met them in the shape of uncles, and turned them back from their great resolve. That child-pilgrimage was a fit beginning. Theresa's passionate, ideal nature demanded an epic life: what were many-volumed romances of chivalry and the social conquests of a brilliant girl to her? Her flame quickly burned up that light fuel; and, fed from within, soared after some illimitable satisfaction, some object which would never justify weariness, which would reconcile self-despair with the rapturous consciousness of life beyond self. She found her epos in the reform of a religious order.

Here she is used on the very first page of a massive novel as an example of a vibrant, truly alive woman. A women who took care of a group of (perhaps often cranky) young nuns, founded new monasteries, wrote books, played tambourine and danced, and still found time for prayer that led her to union with God, is certainly an example for all of us. What she could do is, obviously, possible with proper love of God. More than that, it is a desirable way to spend one's life.

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About this Archive

This page is a archive of entries in the Literature category from October 2002.

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