“A Gather of Lesser Goldfinches” by Jane Beal

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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.

jb

“The Bird of the Soul” by Jane Beal

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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.

I am in love with you.
I need you
to come to me
here.

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.

II.

My soul is a bird
in pain.  

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
died.

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
in pain. 

My heart is a leaping bird
breaking in flight.

III.

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.

IV.

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.

V.

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
is profound.

jb

“The Song of Dionysius” by Jane Beal

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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.

jb

 

_Hail, Radiant Star! Seven Medievalist Poets_ edited by Jane Beal

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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

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Unicorn

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

 

 

“Zebel and Salome, the Virgin Mary’s Midwives: Doubt, Faith, and the Miraculous in a Medieval Legend” by Jane Beal

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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.

EXCERPT: 

“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.”

_Illuminating Jesus in the Middle Ages_ edited by Jane Beal

Jane Beal : Illuminating Jesus

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

Bibliography

Index

“Question and Answer” and Other Poems by Jane Beal

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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.

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The Red Bridge

The Red Bridge
(painted by 
Jane Beal)

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_Garden_ by Jane Beal

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My poetry micro-chap, Gardenis now available
from Origami Poems (2019).

Special directions:
how to download, save, print,
and fold the chapbook.

 GARDEN

entering the garden 

water trickles down
the hollow of an old stone
a bird stoops to drink

turtle pond

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 

duck pond

the hen is asleep
but the drake is holding his
morning yoga pose

humble waterfall
pouring down into the pond
going deeper still

afternoon sunlight
a green leaf in deep water
reaches for the sky

origami in the garden

white origami
cast in metal and shining
birds and butterflies

a paper airplane!
then the white peace crane unfolds
to become a star

shining buffalo
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

jb

***

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

_PRAISE & LAMENT: Psalms for the God of Birds_ by Jane Beal

BEAL - Praise & Lament - 2019 CVR

My new volume of psalm-poems, Praise and Lament: Psalms for the God of Birdsis now available from Lulu Press (2019).

PSALM 3
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!

jb

“The Crowned One” by Jane Beal

MidwiferyToday130 (Summer2019)

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.

II.

A woman
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!

jb

“Ariadne Invites Dionysius to Kiss Her” by Jane Beal

Constellation of Kisses

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!

jb

A New Podcast about Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz with Jane Beal

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

First Portrait

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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.

Second Portrait

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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.

Third Portrait

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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.

jb

Jane Beal

from Rising: Poems for America 
(Wipf and Stock, 2014)

 

Analysis of “The Lady and the Unicorn” Tapestries from “The Unicorn as a Symbol for Christ in Medieval Culture” by Jane Beal

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).

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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:

  • Sight: The Lady holds a mirror up to the Unicorn.
  • Hearing: The Lady plays the harmonium.
  • Smell: The Lady makes a chaplet of flowers while a nearby monkey sniffs a flower.
  • Taste: The Lady apparently gives a small, round, white sweet to a bird (which the bird holds in one claw while the other rests on her left hand).
  • Touch:  The Lady grasps the horn of the unicorn.      

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).

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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:

  • Taste becomes the initial “pursuit”: this is symbolized by the bird, read as a hawk, who represents her lover and the hunt of love motif; the small, round, white object she gives to the bird is not a sweet, but a pearl (which may represent the soul).
  • Hearing becomes “harmony” in the romantic relationship;
  • Smell becomes “recognition,” for she is weaving the chaplet of flowers for her lover as a token of her returned affection.
  • Sight becomes “capitulation,” symbolized by the unicorn in her lap;
  • Touch becomes “capture” when the Lady holds the unicorn’s horn in her hand and the myriad smaller animals in the tapestry are all depicted as collared.
  • Finally, A mon seul desir, difficult to explain with the allegory of the five senses, becomes “resolution”:  to symbolize marriage, the Lady lays aside her own “device,” her necklace, in preparation to take up her husband’s arms. (3)

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)

Source: Wikipedia

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.

  • Four of the six tapestries contain two banners, one square and one rectangular but split on one end into two curling scrolls, while two contain only the square banner.
  • The Lady in the two tapestries with the single square banner has the long hair while the Lady of the four tapestries with the two banners has shoulder-length hair. The Lady of the four tapestries sits or stands alone between the lion and the unicorn.
  • However, in the four tapestries with two banners, a second woman of shorter stature appears with the central Lady in all four cases.
  • Interestingly, in one of the two tapestries with one banner and a long-haired, solitary Lady, the lion and the unicorn wear shields. In one of the four tapestries with two banners and a tall, short-haired Lady with a shorter woman near her, the lion and the unicorn wear shields, but ones different in shape from those in the two tapestries with a solitary Lady. In another of the four tapestries, the lion and the unicorn wear emblazoned capes.

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.”

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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).

Works Cited

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.

6. Kristina Gourlay, “La Dame à licorne: A Reinterpretation,” Gazette des Beaux-Arts 130 (Sept. 1997): 215-232.

7. Marie-Elisabeth Bruel, “La tapisserie de la Dame à la Licorne, une représentation des vertus allégoriques du Roman de la Rose de Guillaume de Lorris,” Gazette des Beaux-Arts(Dec. 2000): 215-232.

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.

 

 

 

“The Secret Power of Philomela’s Transformation” by Jane Beal

Nightingale

My essay, “The Secret Power of Philomela’s Transformation,” now appears in The Nightingale: The Awakened Voices Blog (28 March 2019).

EXCERPT: 

“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.”

“A Walk to Remember” by Jane Beal

My haibun, “A Walk to Remember,” now appears in Haibun Today 13:1 (March 2019).

Screen Shot 2019-03-13 at 9.28.10 AM


A Walk to Remember

You, Opossum, are slinking along the edges of the building in the faint light of morning. Aren’t you nocturnal? Shouldn’t you be deep in a hole, sleeping? You’re so sly, pausing behind a spider plant when you notice me noticing you. You grow impatient, then bold, and finally sprint across the path to the next building. Is it the smell of frying bacon that makes you scuttle off that way, I wonder?

I continue my walk, turn a corner, and see the full moon framed perfectly between the dark, green leaves and the luminescent, purple clusters of bougainvillea blossoms.

the face of the moon

my mother’s face over

the baby’s cradle

jb

Amber Ridge, La Verne, CA

“Jane Hawkins: A Colonial American Midwife and a Complicated Birth” by Jane Beal

Screen Shot 2018-12-17 at 2.53.52 PMMy essay, “Jane Hawkins: A Colonial American Midwife and a Complicated Birth,” appears in Midwifery Today 128 (Winter 2018), 28-29.

EXCERPT: 

“Jane Hawkins came from St. Ives, Cornwall, to America with other Puritan Christians in 1635. She settled in Boston with her husband, Richard Hawkins, where she served as a midwife. She was an older woman at this time, a Christian, but not a member of a Puritan church (McGregor 1996, 186). She shared the practice of midwifery with Anne Hutchinson, another colonial midwife who served the Massachusetts Bay Colony, which was under the leadership of Governor John Winthrop. During a period of great religious upheaval in the community, she attended a complicated birth, which led to suspicions of her involvement with witchcraft, though she was not formally charged (Hall 1991, 19). She was subsequently forbidden to practice midwifery and banished from her home. As a result, she moved to Rhode Island with her family. The extraordinary circumstances that affected the life of the midwife Jane Hawkins deserve close attention … “

Two Haiku by Jane Beal: “Sun-Diamonds Spangle” and “A Tiny Bird”

My haiku, “Sun-Diamonds Spangle” and “A Tiny Bird,” now appear in The Asahi Haikuist (30 November 2018).

sun-diamonds spangle

the bright blue, wetland waters

brown pelicans nod

jb

KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA

(Photo: David Pereksta, USFWS)

tiny bird hidden

in mountain mahogany

a vanishing song

jb

“In Memory of Ann Eliot: Colonial American Midwife” by Jane Beal

BEAL-AnnEliot-MT127 CVRMy essay, “In Memory of Ann Eliot: Colonial American Midwife,” appears in Midwifery Today 127 (Fall 2018): 20-22, in print and online.

EXCERPT: 

“Ann Eliot (born Hannah Mumford or Mountford) was a midwife in Roxbury, Massachusetts, just outside Boston, during the Colonial era in America. After she died on March 22, 1687, her family, friends, and neighbors commemorated her life by erecting a special monument for her. In a unanimous resolution, they voted to do so: “Mrs. Eliot, for the great service that she hath done this town, will be honored with a burial there.” (qtd. in Gregory). At the time of her death, she had attended more than 3,000 births …

… No scandal ever attached to her or her practice of midwifery. In fact, her work as a midwife and healthcare provider expanded into the area of fiduciary responsibility: eight families from the town of Roxbury trusted her to be the executor of their estates (Packard, qtd. in Whaley). So in addition to having attended the births of more than 3,000 babies, she also helped ensure for some of them their provision and future inheritance. When she died, at about the age of eighty-three, Ann Eliot’s loss was deeply felt and widely mourned. Her memory, however, was cherished.”

“O give yee thanks unto the Lord
because that good is hee;
because his loving kindness lasts
to perpetuitee.”

~ Psalm 107:1
(from The Bay Psalm Book,
trans. John Eliot, et al.)

“Who is Tom Bombadil?” by Jane Beal

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by kimberly80

My academic essay, “Who is Tom Bombadil? Interpreting the Light in Frodo Baggins and Tom Bombadil’s Role in the Healing of Traumatic Memory in J.R.R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings,” now appears in The Journal of Tolkien Research 6 (2018): Iss. 1, Art. 1, 1-34.

ABSTRACT: 

In Rivendell, after Frodo has been attacked by Ringwraiths and is healing from the removal of the splinter from a Morgul-blade that had been making its way toward his heart, Gandalf regards Frodo and contemplates a “clear light” that is visible through Frodo to “eyes to see that can.” Samwise Gamgee later sees this light in Frodo when Frodo is resting in Ithilien. The first half of this essay considers questions about this light: how does Frodo become transparent, and why, and what is the nature of the light that fills him? As recourse to Tolkien’s letters shows, the light is related to the virtues of Frodo’s character: love, self-sacrifice, humility, perseverance. The light in Frodo also is related to the light in the Phial of Galadrial, which comes from the Earendil’s Silmaril set in the heavens above Middle-earth, which is called the Morning Star. Because “Morning Star” is a name for Jesus in the New Testament, the light within Frodo may be interpreted, symbolically, as the Christ-light.

The second half of this essay considers how this light was ignited in Frodo, specifically by asking: who is Tom Bombadil, and what does he have to do with the light inside of Frodo? The essay explores multiple explanations for the long-standing, critically-debated mystery of Tom Bombadil’s identity, ultimately showing that he must be interpreted at multiple levels of meaning simultaneously. Intriguingly, Tom Bombadil has parallels to the first Adam and the second Adam, Jesus, especially in his role as “Eldest” (or ab origine) and in his ability to bring light to Frodo in the grave of the barrow-wight, save him from death by his song, and heal him from spiritual “drowning” – a word that Tom uses to describe Frodo’s terrifying experience in the barrow and which relates to Frodo’s original childhood wound: the primal loss of his parents, who drowned in a tragic accident. When Frodo receives healing from this trauma, he is strengthened to endure what he later experiences on his quest to destroy the Ring.