sna poems, #105: gibraltar rock

gibraltar rock is a flat-topped butte made of platteville-galena dolomite and st. peter sandstone. it’s an isolated part of the magnesian escarpment, one of three north-south running escarpments in wisconsin. sandy soil, a prairie on the way up, red oaks and lindens, red cedars up at the top. beautiful dolomite, scalloped and lichenized abounding.

just a perfect upper-midwest fall day for encountering this butte and its many inhabitants. dreamy in the most active and vibrant way.

a.

the salidago

sun bathing

on magnesian flat

b.

baby cedar boughs

under cloud

making plateau way

c.

gnarling bark above

the abyss—

life on the cliff-face

d.

gentle cedar curves

nestling

the magnesium

erratic

if you made it this far: i noticed this desiccated forb with just an arresting form on the way up but didn’t have the camera. made a note to catch an image on the way back down and found it no problem b/c it stood out so much. don’t even know what it is, and don’t really care. it was a revelation.

also, this little pinecone was sitting on the edge of the cliff, just a perfect, understated still life. no staging required.

Three New Poems in _Macrina Magazine_!

I’m very grateful to Macrina Magazine for accepting what is a quite a seriously mixed bag of poems—I think it shows a real willingness to experiment and be open to lots of different ways of coming at poetry. You can read them here, and stick around to read other stuff on the site.

In their varied ways, the set together says a lot about what I find valuable in life. There are some notes on the page, but: the first is a translation of an Old English poem that is set into an anonymous translator’s rendering of Boethius’s De consolatione philosophiae, that features Weland the Smith; the second is a “tour poem” of a nature preserve in Sauk County, Wisconsin; and the third is an imitation poem in honor of the Mazatec curandera Maria Sabina set at a roadside shrine to the Sacred Heart in Door County, Wisconsin. Something for everyone! 🙂

Webinar for Paraclete Press with Abbot Primate Gregory Polan on the Divine Office

I had the distinct privilege yesterday of having a conversation with Abbot Primate Gregory J. Polan, OSB and Rachel McKendree of Paraclete Press about the practice and virtues of the Divine Office (also known as the Liturgy of the Hours) and my new book, The Saint Benedict Prayer Book.

We discussed a bit of the history but more so the vision of reality that is conveyed by the performance of the Hours, why it matters as a form of prayer in the world today and how it shapes who we are. It was a fabulous discussion with much wisdom from Abbot Primate Gregory.

If you have an interest, you can watch the full conversation here, and you can pick a copy of the book here.

Pax et Bonum!

More Benedictiana: 6th century poem on St. Benedict in _Spirit & Life_ (+ audio)

I’ve come back from vacation to find my translation of a Latin poem on St. Benedict in the latest print issue of Spirit & Life, the magazine that the Benedictine Sisters of Perpetual Adoration publish every couple months.

It’s a middle-length poem by a monk named Mark of Monte Cassino, and it’s the earliest attestation we have of St. Benedict’s existence—in plenty of time for his feast day on July 11th. The Latin is set in elegiac couplets, and I’ve translated them into alternating 12-syllable and 10-syllable lines modeled on French syllabic lines.

So, if you’re interested in arcane Benedictine texts (as you know I am), have a read here and a listen below if you like! Also: you can sign up for a free subscription to the magazine here.

Post(s) on Blessed Itala Mela Featured at Paraclete Press’s Site

In celebration of all things Benedictine and in the wake of The Saint Benedict Prayer Book coming out, Paraclete has also recently posted a brief life and translations of prayers I’ve written up on the first (modern) Benedictine oblate to be beatified, Blessed Itala Mela.

If you have an interest in Benedictine history, the liturgy, or arcane mystics that you didn’t even know were a thing, I hope you check it out, and support Paraclete while you’re at it if you’re able to.

Pax

Marian Poem by Dame Gertrude More (Audio)

On this Marian feast of Our Lady of the Rosary, I thought I’d offer a reading of Dame Gertrude More’s poem “To Our Blessed Lady, the Advocate of Sinners.”

A short prayer-poem set in common metre, “To Our Blessed Lady” was composed by the Benedictine nun Gertrude More in the early seventeenth century and is edited in my fourth book, Dame Gertude More’s Poems & Counsels on Prayer and Contemplation.

Benedictines paved the way of Marian devotion thru-out the early and high middle ages, and here’s Gertrude, co-foundress of Stanbrook Abbey, carrying on the tradition.

Dame Gertrude More’s poem for St. Benedict

Second installment for St. Benedict’s feast day!

Here is my reading (with a small cameo from my daughter) of Dame Gertrude More’s (1606-33) poem to her master in the monastic life, St. Benedict.

Dame Gertrude was a Benedictine nun in exile on the continent and a great contemplative of the early modern period when the English Catholic Church persevered thru persecution. You can pick up a copy of her poems and shorter prose here if you like.

A nice one in common meter. Enjoy!

New Peer-reviewed Essay/Edition/Translation: a Fourteenth-Century Benedictine Novice Treatise on Contemplation

After several years and help from a number of scholars and monks, I am very happy to announce that my edition, translation, and study of an anonymous fourteenth-century Latin treatise for novice Benedictines, De modo meditandi vel contemplandi (“On the method of meditation or contemplation”), was published last month by the good folks at The Journal of Medieval Religious Cultures. The treatise comes to us from the monastery of Bury St. Edmunds, the monastery (dissolved in the sixteenth-century) that was home to the most prolific Middle English poet, Dom John Lydgate.

My thanks to the editors, Christine Cooper-Rompato and Sherri Olson; everyone who offered their help along the way; and to my anonymous reader at JMRC for all their assistance in presenting this work to the world.

Here is the article’s abstract:

This article presents the first study, edition, and modern English translation of a Latin treatise for novice Benedictine monks copied at the English monastery of Bury St. Edmunds in the fourteenth century in Oxford, Bodleian Library, Bodley 240. The treatise is comprised of two primary parts, the first describing a monastic program of meditation or contemplation to be followed throughout the day, the second discussing the benefits and nature of “the discipline” (the practice of flagellation) for curing a lack of devotion to monastic practice. The introduction and notes place the treatise within the larger context of the manuscript, of religious life and history in England and the West more generally, and of the treatise author’s sources, monastic heritage, and a variety of traditional and innovative medieval genres. The text is finally placed in the context of newer historiography on late medieval English monasticism and the relationship of monastics to their lay associates.

Arcane work, I know, but fascinating material!

Happy St. Æthelwold’s Day, 2019

St. Æthelwold’s Day is upon us again! On this day in 984, St. Æthelwold passed on to his eternal reward, as the saying goes. I’m currently teaching two classes and in the midst of writing three different books, so unfortunately I am not able to post a translation of a hymn in honor of Æthelwold today as I did last year, but I will post at least another collect and translation below.

But I will make one Æthelwold-related suggestion: anyone interested in Æthelwold’s legacy, the English Benedictine Reform generally, and especially their influence on English culture and literature would do well to check out John D. Niles’s new book out from Exeter University Press, God’s Exiles and English Verse, an excellent new and comprehensive study of the tenth-century Exeter Book. The Exeter Book is the first anthology of English poetry, and it contains some of the great poems that have come down to us from Anglo-Saxon England. As it was made in the cultural orbit of the Benedictine Reform, Niles reads the whole manuscript in light of this movement, and when I read his book last month I was both impressed and delighted.

Next year, I’m hoping to have a translation of the Middle English verse Life of St. Æthelwold done for his day. As I assume I won’t find a publisher in a journal for that one, I’ll likely publish it here. Stay tuned.

Anyhow, for today, here’s my translation of a collect for Æthelwold’s feast, found in Alencon Bibl. mun. 14 and edited in Lapidge and Winterbottom, The Life of St. Æthelwold, p. cxv:

Deus, qui preclari sideris sancti pontificis Adeluuoldi illustratione nouam populis Anglorum tribuisti lucem hodierna die clarescere, tuam suppliciter imploramus clementiam ut cuius magisterio totius religionis documenta cognouimus illius et exemplis informemur et patrociniis adiuuemur. Per [Dominum nostrum Christum. Amen.]

O God, who by the illumination of the bright star of the bishop Æthelwold have today made a new light to shine upon the English people, we humbly implore your mercy that we might be formed by the example and aided by the protection of him by whose teaching we have found the model of all religious observance. Thru [Christ our Lord. Amen.]

A happy St. Æthelwold’s Day to all!

Celebrating the Unity of East and West in New Essay in Benedictine Magazine

I have an enduring appreciation for all the spiritual and religious traditions of humanity, and within the Church I am particularly enthusiastic about the witness to unity that the full communion of the Latin Catholic Church and the twenty-three Eastern Catholic Churches (all twenty-four being sui iuris Churches in communion with the bishop of Rome) share.

The extensive diversity on the surface (of liturgical form, spiritual culture, and secular culture and language), attended by the willingness and desire to share in the most profound depths of sacred ritual (most especially the Eucharist) point up just how much we can be united within our very real differences.

In one specific and practical example, I address the fruits of this communion in a new article published by Spirit & Life, the magazine put out by the congregation of Benedictine sisters with whom I am an oblate. You can read the full essay here.