My haiku series, “Epiphany,” now appears
in Fireflies Light 17 (December 2019), 32.
“Joyful, joyful, we adore thee!
God of Glory, God of Light!
Hearts unfold like flowers before thee:
Glory to the Son of God.”
My haiku series, “Descansco Gardens at Christmas,”
now appears in Fireflies Light 17 (December 2019), 30.
little spirit of pure joy
flitters by water
the dark-eyed juncos
three wise-men on a journey
to bow down to Love
carols from treetops!
music reveals angels
swooping over earth
the woodpecker’s beak
hammers at the old oak trees
sweet, spotted towee
preparing her gentle breast
step back, look and see
I kneel down quietly
in silence and awe
light shines through the oaks
on the antlers of the stag
Jesus, Prince of Peace
La Cañada Flintridge
Three of my new haiku, from my haiku series “In Search of Tuna Canyon Labyrinth,” now appear in The Asahi Haikuist.
the rear-view mirror
reveals the snow-capped mountains
as we drive away
sliver of white moon
shining in the deep blue dark
a broken seashell
we look for the maze
but didn’t find it today
the music played on
My creative non-fiction, prose poem reflection, “Faith is like a Shimmering Veil,” now appears in the blog of Tiferet:
My new haiga
in Fireflies’ Light.
sunset over Wales
a girl looks through the window
of a speeding train
from a tower-top
in a big, modern city
the medieval bridge
walking down the hill
to Indian food in Leeds
the blue hydrangea
a Yorkshire hedgehog waddles
under a green bush
at Castle Howard
little, brown butterflies
dance in the heather
an old woman sits
on the park bench by herself –
the river flows by
My poem, “A Gather of Lesser Goldfinches,” now appears in the Anglican Theological Review 101:4 (Fall 2019), 732.
A GATHER OF LESSER GOLDFINCHES
The lesser goldfinches have come!
They gather in the November colors
of the California maple tree, whistling as they
turn upside down and eat the seeds,
letting black husks fall to the ground
with the dead leaves, crackling.
The gathering of lesser goldfinches
is a magical crown around the maple tree,
gently turning in gyre,
expanding, contracting, singing
that a new life will come—
a new life, a new life, a new life.
My poem, “The Bird of the Soul: A Psalm of Lament,” now appears in the Jewish Literary Journal 77 (November 2019).
The Bird of the Soul
A Psalm of Lament
I am in love with you.
I need you
to come to me
Why will you not come?
I bow my head in grief.
The tears come from a deep place.
Shana tova,a woman says,
and I understand what she means.
Why will you not come?
How can it be a good thing
if my heart breaks,
and out of the ashes of my heart,
something new grows?
Why will you not come?
O God, perfect heart-builder!
You said he would come to me here.
But he says he will not come.
O God, I am alone without him.
My heart is breaking in pieces,
and it is a new year.
My soul is a bird
My heart is a leaping bird
breaking in flight.
The nest is empty.
The nest is empty now.
When there were nestlings,
a cruel child came
and struck the mud nests
from the wall, so that they fell
and all our nestlings
Now my soul is with the other bird-women,
crying in a wheeling-circle over the nesting place
where there is nothing
except what has fallen
to the ground,
to the ground.
My soul is a bird
My heart is a leaping bird
breaking in flight.
Now it is the Day of Atonement,
and I must atone for my sins.
I know I have sinned, and I blame myself,
and I fear that I have forsaken my blessing
by reaching out to take it too soon.
O Lord God, have mercy on me!
My longing was so great!
If you cut open the pomegranate,
you will see my heart.
My heart is a leaping bird, breaking in flight.
All night I lie dreaming, and nothing
takes away my sorrow.
On Wednesday, I will go outside
and begin to build the outdoor tent, where
I am supposed to live this week and remember
how my ancestors dwelled in tents
in the wilderness before God
brought us into the Promised Land.
I will see the birds fly overhead by day,
and the stars wheel overhead by night.
It is the season of harvest.
Even my dog knows the time.
My womb, however, weeps blood,
again and again and again.
I want to sing the songs that are inside,
each one a little babe –
I want to sing the psalms that save and bind up
bright and broken wings –
songs like lullabies
to little hearts, like lullabies to mine –
but never again sung to rock the cradle,
never again to watch it fall down.
O, how can the childless mother
make a wish in the dark? The silence
is very deep now. The silence
My haiku, “sunset over Wales,” now appears in Frogpond 42:3 (2019), 40.
sunset over Wales
a girl looks out the window
of a speeding train
My poems, “The Song of Dionysius” and “The Tattoo Artist,” now appear in fws: a journal of literature and art 1:2 (Fall 2019).
THE SONG OF DIONYSIUS
I am coming to you
through the wine country
carrying my staff
wrapped in ivy
and dripping with honey.
Come meet me in the fields
of endless pleasure.
Come to me, Ariadne,
darling princess, royal bride –
you are everything
I want, and I am
everything you want.
Come meet me, singing,
with the epiphany of your body.
I am coming to you
with the fox-skin of new life,
with the heritage of the twice-born,
richer than your wildest dreams,
more intoxicating than golden wine.
Come meet me at dusk, when the peacocks
are crying out from the shadows.
Come with me, and bring
the labyrinth of your heart –
I know the way in, and
I know the way out. My wine
is for your sweet mouth.
My new poetry anthology,
Hail, Radiant Star! Seven Medievalist Poets (2019),
is now available from Finishing Line Press.
There are seven poets who have written poems to light up the little universe of the book: Jane Beal, Gail Berlin, Albrecht Classen, Thom Foy, Katharine Jager, A.J. Odasso, and Katherine Durham Oldmixon (Garza). Each poet has contributed a group of nine poems, and in reading and re-reading these verses, readers may be able to discern themes that unify each group like constellations are connected by stars in the night sky … There are eighty-eight constellations in the night sky. In the microcosmos of Hail, Radiant Star!, there are just seven: the Crown, the Lyre, the Pegasus, the Lion, the Ship’s Keel, the Twins, and the Virgin. Yet hopefully there is enough light from them to brighten a reader’s heart.
–Jane Beal, editor of Hail, Radiant Star!: Seven Medievalist Poets
The tender scene, so beautiful in the forest,
when the maiden sits in the middle of the path that runs
through the trees, and the unicorn lays his head in her lap:
Incarnation of God! What magic is in the world?
The hunters draw closer, but still, you lie at peace
like a newborn baby wrapped in swaddling clothes
and laid in a manger. The woman with you cannot
imagine how the sword will pierce
her own heart, too.
~ Jane Beal
My article, “Zebel and Salome, the Virgin Mary’s Midwives: Doubt, Faith, and the Miraculous in a Medieval Legend,” now appears in Midwifery Today 131 (Autumn 2019), 44-46.
“The birth of Jesus is perhaps the most famous birth in the world. It is called the Nativity (meaning “the Birth”) and represented in homes, churches, and communities by iconic Nativity scenes at Christmastime, when it is celebrated by Christians (and many non-Christians) worldwide. Nativity scenes recall figures from the birth and infancy stories of Jesus preserved in the gospels of Matthew and Luke as well as extra-biblical sources, including Christmas carols: a stable with a star shining over it; domesticated animals like the ox, ass, and sheep; angels, shepherds, and Magi (also known as the Wise Men or Three Kings); and Joseph and Mary, come from Galilee to Bethlehem to participate in a Roman census, and of course, the baby Jesus lying in a hay-filled manger.
“Away in a manger, no crib for a bed –
the little Lord Jesus lay down his sweet head;
the stars in the sky look down where he lay –
the little Lord Jesus asleep on the hay.”
“Away in a Manger” (late 19thc.)
Figures that we almost never see depicted in Nativity scenes today are Zebel and Salome, the midwives who were long believed to have attended Mary when she gave birth to Jesus. That’s because no midwives are named, or even mentioned, in the Nativity accounts in the biblical Gospels of Matthew and Luke. But in the late-antique and medieval periods, several well-known written documents and visual sources depict two midwives with Mary when Jesus was born. These midwives, Zebel and Salome, play a vitally important role in such depictions: their doubt and faith, their practical knowledge and spiritual authority, are used to verify the miraculous nature of the virgin birth.”
My new academic book is now available:
Illuminating Jesus in the Middle Ages (Brill, 2019).
TABLE OF CONTENTS
Introduction: Illuminating Jesus in the Middle Ages Jane Beal
1 Jesus and the Psalms: The Witness of the Latin Liturgical Sequence Nancy van Deusen
2 The Miracles of Jesus in the Writings of the Venerable Bede George Hardin Brown
3 The “Hælend” and Other Images of Jesus in Anglo-Saxon England Larry Swain
4 Christ as an Early Irish Hero: The Poems of Blathmac, Son of Cú Brettan Tomás Ó Cathasaigh
5 The Teaching Logos: Christology and Tropology in Theophylact of Ochrid’s Interpretation of New Testament Parables Thomas Cattoi
6 “I Am”: The Glossa Ordinaria on John’s Gospel Linda Stone
7 Devotion to the Holy Name of Jesus in the Medieval West Rob Lutton
8 The Unicorn as a Symbol for Christ in the Middle Ages Jane Beal
9 Godly Bridegroom and Human Bride Andrew Galloway
10 Medieval Affective Piety and Christological Devotion: Juliana of Mont Cornillon and the Feast of Corpus Christi Barbara Zimbalist
11 Imitatio Christi and Authority in the Lives of St. Francis Donna Trembinski
12 Vision and Sacrament: Christ’s Humanity in the Spirituality of Gertrude the Great of HelftaAaron Canty
13 Christ as Turning Point in Dante’s Commedia Victorio Montemaggi and Lesley Sullivan
14 Jesus and the Christ in Two Middle English Psalm Commentaries Michael P. Kuczynski
15 Jesus as ‘Mother’ in Julian of Norwich’s Showing of Love Julia Bolton Holloway
16 Translation Debates and Lay Accessibility in the Meditationes Vitae Christi and Middle English Lives of Christ Paul J. Patterson
My poems, “Question and Answer,” “A Flower in a Prayer-Vision,” “Out of the Birdcage,” “Wave,” “The Red Bridge,” “The Path of Life,” and “Paraphrase from an Ancient Greek Letter,” now appear in Integrité: A Journal of Faith and Learning 18:1 (Spring 2019), 88-91.
The Red Bridge
(painted by Jane Beal)
My poetry micro-chap, Garden, is now available
from Origami Poems (2019).
how to download, save, print,
and fold the chapbook.
entering the garden
water trickles down
the hollow of an old stone
a bird stoops to drink
a turtle hatchling
is all alone on her stone
but the sun is warm
two turtles sunbathe
on a stone in the dark pond
watching me watch them
an older turtle
circles in the pond water
looking for a stone
the hen is asleep
but the drake is holding his
morning yoga pose
pouring down into the pond
going deeper still
a green leaf in deep water
reaches for the sky
origami in the garden
cast in metal and shining
birds and butterflies
a paper airplane!
then the white peace crane unfolds
to become a star
with a small bird on his back
looking out at us
leaving the garden
the old mother-tree
and her branching canopy
stays in memory
for Michelle Smoler
teacher, yogi, neighbor, sister, friend
inspired by the artwork of Robert Lang and Kevin Box
in the exhibit at the Rancho Santa Ana Botanical Gardens
Claremont, California * April 2019
My new volume of psalm-poems, Praise and Lament: Psalms for the God of Birds, is now available from Lulu Press (2019).
Now I See a Yellow-Billed Stork
Lord, I see an elephant with long tusks
alone on the savanna –
I see giraffes with long necks
striding together in the morning.
I see hippos in the Nile
and a kingfisher flying in midair –
I see a mother monkey
who carries her baby on her back.
I see a water buffalo,
and he sees me!
I see a wild warthog
trotting away through the trees.
Now I see a yellow-billed stork
standing in the river-shallows.
O Lord, how marvelous is every creature
You have made!
My poem,“The Crowned One,” now appears in Midwifery Today 130 (Summer 2019), 4.
THE CROWNED ONE
Sometimes the bough breaks.
The finger of God
reaching toward Adam
does not touch him.
The desert at sunset is dry.
The pool of water
does not take away the pain,
and the baby-girl does not turn inside.
We wait too long.
On the third day,
her mother is cut open
to bring forth her baby.
But that is not enough for life.
She breathes muddy water
into her fragile lungs
and lies still.
She’s waiting to heal.
breathes the breath of life
into the baby.
The newborn baby-girl awakens!
After two minutes,
once again her heart is beating
like a little bird’s.
For four days, she sleeps without a name.
Then, an angel-like-a-girl-child
comes down from heaven
into her mother’s dream:
her name is Stefania,
and she will live!
My poem, “Ariadne Invites Dionysius to Kiss Her,” now appears in the poetry anthology, A Constellation of Kisses, ed. Diane Lockwood (West Caldwell, NJ: Terrapin Books, 2019), 21.
ARIADNE INVITES DIONYSIUS TO KISS HER
I know one of the Maenads
gave you a massage today – I am not jealous.
I know you’re eating chocolate cake
that may be better than sex.
Come over here
with that chocolate in your mouth
and let me kiss you, Dionysius –
let’s kiss with our mouths open!
Mallorie Johnson, a Theater major at the University of La Verne, produces a podcast called “Arguments about Classical Theater.” For the second half of episode 4, she and her co-host Dan Jerz interviewed me about Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz (ca. 1651-1695), called in her time “The Tenth Muse” and the “Phoenix of the Americas”: she was a learned religious woman of the Order of St. Jerome, a “Renaissance” woman living in the so-called Age of Enlightenment, and a prolific writer of poems, plays, and a famous letter, “Reply to Sor Filotea.” The podcast is available on SoundCloud:
(My portion of the podcast begins at 31:38. Important correction: I accidentally identified the slayer of the Minotaur as Jason, when I should have said THESEUS, when discussing the classical myth of the Labyrinth … !)
In the podcast, I give a reading of my poem, “Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz Sings of a Swan,” an ekphrastic poem about three portraits of Sor Juana:
SOR JUANA INÉS DE LA CRUZ SINGS OF A SWAN
When I was young, the painter came and painted me
beautiful, a book in one hand, my other hand turned out
as if waiting for You to take it and ask me to dance.
But all my secrets were simmering inside me
like spices—like cinnamon—or red pepper
ground to powder and ready to burn your mouth.
My desires were as sweet as a singing swan.
I went away from the house where I was fostered
and took refuge in a monastery dedicated to Saint Jerome,
and he came again, that painter, and painted me:
sitting in my black and white habit, a wall of books
behind me, one open before me (not the Bible),
my beads wound round my body and dripping down
my shoulder, across my thigh, held in my hand,
but easy to ignore in comparison
to the oval portrait, like a shield of faith, upon my breast
showing an angel with rainbow wings flying above
someone kneeling, like Paul on the Damascus road, before
the Power that changes us in the middle of our life’s path.
Little did I know! All that would be asked of me
by the Archbishop—my books, my music,
my scientific instruments—for answering Sor Filotea.
Yes, I confess, I said that a woman has as much
right as a man to learn to read and write, and to do it
freely! But I was not free. I was bound by my vows.
So I surrendered all.
The painter came again and painted me before I died,
one hand resting on the book of my own works, the other
holding the breviary (for life is brief), while wearing
my escudo,another oval painting upon my breast, this
time showing a woman, an angel, and a dove
descending from heavenand announcing that
the new life had come.
from Rising: Poems for America
(Wipf and Stock, 2014)
My poetry micro-chapbook, Journey,
is now available from Origami Poems Press (2019).
how to download, save, print,
and fold the chapbook.
From Los Angeles to Vallejo and Back
from Los Angeles …
slowly through the pouring rain
no longer racing
red-winged blackbirds sing
together in Tejon Pass
the rain stops falling
on the rooftop after rain
singing to a friend
no old woman here!
eyes sparking with youthfulness,
she laughs everyday
three brothers drinking
before nine in the morning
I’ve seen this before
in a sudden storm
hail breaks hard on my windshield
the road disappears
my lover leans back
his eyes meeting mine like doves
drawn to the river
my love is with me
quietly talking at night
my lover draws close
our hearts sing without touching,
kiss without kissing
I stand with Stacey
on the pier and look across
the water at the white boat
the bridge spans the Bay
from Benicia to Crockett
view from the Dead Fish
three children painted
in bright colors yesterday
picture them smiling!
moon sets at sunrise
in pale pink, purple, and blue
as we walk and pray
my grandmother’s heart
is being opened today
a new pacemaker
… and back
sunlight on green grass
swaying in the wind
spring is near
you are the perfect lover for me
My chapter, “The Unicorn as a Symbol for Christ in Medieval Culture,” is now forthcoming in Illuminating Jesus in the Middle Ages, ed. Jane Beal (Leiden: Brill, 2019).
Analysis of “The Lady and the Unicorn” Tapestries
The images in the six tapestries called The Lady and the Unicorn (or La dame et licorne) participate in network of inter-connected meanings or, perhaps, in four levels of meaning. The imagery includes sacred (allegorical) and secular (literal or historical) senses in the service of the artistic representation of late-medieval Catholic virtue among the nobility. This is certainly tied to the patrons of the tapestries, the Le Viste family of Lyon, France.
The Le Viste family arms are represented in each of the tapestries, indicating their patronage of these extraordinary works of art. Scholarly consensus originally held that Jean IV Le Viste commissioned them, which makes sense because he was in possession of at least three sets of large tapestries, apparently including The Lady and the Unicorn, that are mentioned in his will and were given upon his death to the eldest of his three daughters, Claude. However, there is another argument attributing patronage to Antoine Le Viste, cousin germain of Jean IV Le Viste, perhaps in honor of his affianced, Jacquelin Raguier, whom he married in 1515. (1) Scholars have long doubted that these are wedding tapestries, however, because if they were, by tradition, they would represent the coats of arms of the families of both bride and groom: these six tapestries represent only the Le Viste family arms, and so it is unlikely that The Lady and the Unicorn tapestries were made to honor a nuptial celebration.
Since 1921, when A.F. Kendrick identified the tapestries as having been made in the medieval tradition of the “allegory of the senses,” modern viewers have been taught to read five of the tapestries as representative of sight, hearing, smell, taste, touch:
The sixth tapestry, which admittedly does not fit well with this scheme, may represent a sixth idea, such as the will (“a mon seul desir”) (2), or, enigmatically, relinquishment (because the lady is placing her necklace in a casket – unless, of course, she is actually taking the necklace out of the casket).
Two other different but nevertheless cogent interpretations of the The Lady and the Unicorn have been put forward in recent years.
In 1997, Kristina Gourlay argued the The Lady and the Unicorn tapestry series is not so much an “allegory of the senses” as it is a representation of the “iconography of love.” Looking to Richard de Fournival’s thirteenth-century Bestiare d’Amour, which contains a chivalric version of the mystical hunt of the unicorn story, she focuses on the tapestry that depicts the lady with the unicorn in her lap and develops an argument re-interpreting The Lady and the Unicorn as a story about the progress of a romance. In her scheme:
In 2000, Marie-Elisabeth Bruel read the tapestries in terms of noble virtues portrayed as allegorical female figures in the Roman de la Rose, equating “sight” with Oiseuse (idleness), “touch” with Richesse (wealth), “taste” with Franchise (candor or freedom of the spirit), “hearing” with Liesse (joy), “smell” with Beauté (beauty), and “a mon seul desir” with Largesse (generosity). (4) Bruel’s model, reading The Lady and the Unicorn in terms of an influential medieval literary work, has been followed by others who have read the tapestries in light of the works of Jean Gerson and Christine de Pizan. (5)
According to these three major interpretations of the series as whole, as well as related studies, the Lady may represent the soul (anima) and the soul’s responses to the senses. She may represent the ideal woman, either in her virtue or her desirability as a lover (or both). She may be inspired, to some degree, by well-known medieval literary works. Furthermore, she may be intended to glorify the nobility of the Le Viste family, woo a spouse into the Le Viste family, educate the daughters of the Le Viste family in the virtues they should possess or advertise the marriageability of the young women in the Le Viste family.
Recently, in her a careful heraldric study of the tapestries, Carmen Decu Teodorescu has suggested that the particular coats of arms represented in the tapestries belonged to Antoine Le Viste, not to Jean IV Le Viste. (6) First noticed by Marice Dayras in 1963, the changes made to the Le Viste family arms in the tapestries were hypothesized by Carmen Decu Teodorescu in 2010 to be a “mark of cadency.” Such a mark is “used in heraldry to indicate by its addition to an armorial the birth order of a male heir. The cadency mark has been traditionally used to differentiate between different branches of a family which bear the same arms.” (7) As has been observed, “Cette hypothèse est renforcée par le fait que son blazon se trouve sur la rose méridionale de l’église Saint-Germain-l’Auxerrois de Paris qui a été commandé par Antoine Le Viste par un marché passé en 1532.” (8)
There are four distinguishing differences in this series of six tapestries: the differences are between banners, the lady’s hair length, the presence or absence of an additional woman, and the wearing of shields (or capes) by the lion and the unicorn.
Based on these major, easily visible distinguishing differences, quite possibly there are at least two different Le Viste tapestry sets here that have been combined, received, and interpreted as a single set. There may have been additional tapestries, now lost, in either set. This idea is not new, but it is significant for interpretation of meaning.
The idea that the central lady in the tapestries represents the Virgin Mary certainly has been considered, but it is not now widely accepted. This is in part because the connection with Mary is not as explicit in The Lady and the Unicorn as in other representations, like the 1480 Swiss tapestry altar frontal (discussed above), though it should be noted that some representations of the Virgin are quite simple, without halo or many identifying symbols around her. By contrast, the prominently displayed Le Viste family arms are quite explicitly and repeatedly displayed, leading art historians to investigate the historical situatedness of the works in terms of their patronage.
Yet culturally literate medieval people were accustomed to understanding the stories, visual art, and architecture around them at multiple levels of meaning: literally and allegorically. It is likely that The Lady and the Unicorn participates in such a network of meaning. Literally and historically, the tapestries may pertain to the women of Le Viste family: their virtue, beauty, and desirability. At the same time, allegorically or spiritually, the tapestries can be characterized as Marian, if not exclusively about Mary, and Christian, if not exclusively about Christ. The Lady is like Mary because the women of the Le Viste family seek to emulate the Virgin. Both the unicorn and the lion are like Jesus because the chivalric male head of their household seeks to emulate Christ. (9) Morally, the tapestries encourage multiple meditative practices, common to late-medieval lay Catholic spirituality, intended to edify the viewers with respect to guarding their senses, and thus, their souls, since the senses are gateways to the soul. Anagogically, they may represent matters unfolding in the future, including the laying aside of wealth in order to receive a heavenly crown.
One image in the series particularly evokes the idea of the virgin capture of the unicorn: the tapestry most commonly called “Sight.”
Author’s note: For further analysis of the tapestries in the context of Christian unicorn symbolism in the Middle Ages, please see my chapter, “The Unicorn as a Symbol for Christ in Medieval Culture,” in Illuminating Jesus in the Middle Ages, ed. Jane Beal (Leiden: Brill, forthcoming).
1. Sophie Schneelbalg-Perelman, “La Dame à la licorne a été tissée à Bruxelles,” Gazette des Beaux Arts 70 (1967): 253-278. She notes the former existence of an early sixteenth-century, six panel artwork described in a 1548 inventory that once belonged to Prince Erard de la Marck, Prince-Bishop of Liège, and was entitled Los Sentidos: it represented the five senses and included a sixth panel with the inscription liberum arbitrium. She interprets a mon seul desir in light of the Latin in Los Sentidos, suggesting that the Lady may use her senses according to her free will or only desire.
2. Consider, for example, the many legends of Robin Hood and Maid Marian, several contemporary in time with these tapestries, in which the virtues of a counter-cultural Christ (“stealing from the rich to give to the poor”) and an innocent Marian maid are represented in two life-like, noble characters. For discussion, see Stephen Knight, Reading Robin Hood: Content, Form, and Reception in the Outlaw Myth, Manchester Medieval Literature and Culture Series (Manchester University Press, 2015, repr. forthcoming 2017), esp. chap. 7, “The Making and Re-Making of Maid Marian.”
3. Carmen Decu Teodorescu, “La Tenture de la Dame à la Licorne: Nouvelle lecture des armoiries,” Bulletin Monumentalde la Société Française d’ Archéologie 168:4 (2010), 355-67.
4. “Cadency marks,” Heraldric Dictionary, University of Notre Dame. http://www.rarebooks.nd.edu/digital/heraldry/cadency.html. Accessed 28 March 2017.
5. “La Dame à la Licorne,” Wikipédia (française). https://fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/La_Dame_%C3%A0_la_licorne#Origine. Accessed 28 March 2017.
8. See Anne Davenport, “Is there a sixth sense in The Lady and the Unicorn Tapestries?” New Arcadia Review 4 (2010): http://omc.bc.edu/newarcadiacontent/isThereASixthSense_edited.html and Shelley Williams, “Text and Tapestry: The Lady and the Unicorn, Christine de Pizan and the Le Vistes” (Diss., Brigham Young University, 2009).
9. See, for example, Carl Nordenfalk, “The Five Senses in Late Medieval and Renaissance Art,” Journal of the Warburg and Courtauld Institutes 48 (1985): 1-22, esp. 7-10.
My poem, “The Statue of a Soldier at Canterbury Cathedral,” now appears in Metonym IX (Spring 2019), 41.
My essay, “The Secret Power of Philomela’s Transformation,” now appears in The Nightingale: The Awakened Voices Blog (28 March 2019).
“This past summer, I visited England, and I saw a nightingale for the first time in the gardens of Lacock Abbey when I went walking there. It was a really extraordinary moment for me. That little brownish bird is a symbol of hope – with a legendary history.
There are no nightingales in America, but there are many in Europe and England, where the song of the nightingale is well-known and well-loved. That song has been associated with poets and poetry for hundreds of years, perhaps most famously in the Romantic poet John Keats’ poem, “Ode to a Nightingale,” in which he declares, “Thou wast not born for death, immortal Bird!”
This is a powerful claim, one that apparently comes from Keats’ familiarity with the haunting legend of Philomela. Originating in Greco-Roman myth but little known today, Philomela’s story is that of a rape survivor who was transformed into a nightingale. I see a secret power in her transformation that can encourage sexual abuse and assault survivors living in our world now.”
My essay, “Galanthis, Alcmene’s Midwife: A Childbirth Myth of Ancient Greece and Rome,” now appears in Midwifery Today 129 (Spring 2019): 46-47.
“Almost everyone has heard of Hercules, famous for his strength, who performed twelve great labors and many other feats – including holding up the sky for Atlas and bringing Alcestis back from Hades (death) to her husband (life). Once there is a Disney animated feature film about a hero, like “Hercules” (Disney, 1997), the hero’s name becomes familiar to many children and their parents world-wide. But few people know the name of Hercules’ mother, Alcmene, and even fewer know about Alcmene’s friend and midwife, Galanthis, who used her wits to defeat the goddess who was holding back the birth of Hercules.”
My academic article, “The Idea of Music in the Latin Polychronicon of Ranulf Hidden and the English Translation of John Trevisa” now appears in The Medieval Chronicle, Vol. 12, edited by Erik Kooper and Sjoerd Levelt, pp. 38-58.
This essay examines the treatment of music as a theme in the fourteenth-century Latin Polychronicon of Ranulf Higden and the English translation of the universal history by John Trevisa. Both compiler and translator were preachers, with special interests in encouraging monastic and priestly preachers, and it appears that they received and transmitted stories concerning music that could serve as moral exempla. This becomes clear through an analysis of stories in five categories: the origins of music, famous musicians as moral exempla, music and sexual morality, music and national identity, and music and wisdom. Key figures examined include Tubalcain and Pythagoras, Socrates, King David, Emperor Nero, Caedmon, Saint Dunstan, Syringa and John, the Cardinal of Rome, while key people groups considered include the Cretans, the Irish, the English, and the Normans. The essay concludes with reflections on the connection between music and wisdom evident in stories retold about Socrates and Pope Sergius I.