99 Danish Thanes

I had to post this marvellous mashup because it involves two of my favourite things, great literature and 80’s pop music!

If you liked that, you might also enjoy The Vikings (Personal Jesus), Attila the Hun (Here Comes the Rain Again), The Trojan War (Tainted Love)… Oh just watch them all! Long live the 80’s!

Canterbury Tales: A Clerk from Oxford

A clerk from Oxford was with us also,
Who’d turned to getting knowledge, long ago.
As meagre was his horse as is a rake,
Nor he himself too fat, I’ll undertake,
But he looked hollow and went soberly.
Right threadbare was his overcoat; for he
Had got him yet no churchly benefice,
Nor was so worldly as to gain office.
For he would rather have at his bed’s head
Some twenty books, all bound in black and red,
Of Aristotle and his philosophy
Than rich robes, fiddle, or gay psaltery.
Yet, and for all he was philosopher,
He had but little gold within his coffer;
But all that he might borrow from a friend
On books and learning he would swiftly spend,
And then he’d pray right busily for the souls
Of those who gave him wherewithal for schools.
Of study took he utmost care and heed.
Not one word spoke he more than was his need;
And that was said in fullest reverence
And short and quick and full of high good sense.
Pregnant of moral virtue was his speech;
And gladly would he learn and gladly teach.

—Geoffrey Chaucer, The Canterbury Tales, Prologue (287-310)

Luminarium, where have you been all my blog-life?

How is it that I’ve been blogging about classic literature for two years and haven’t run across Luminarium: Anthology of English Literature? Do roll your mouse over that link to get a taste of the gorgeousness of this site. It is not only a beautiful website but a comprehensive one, with texts, essays, biographies, and resources for scores of great English writers from the 14th to 18th centuries.

Luminarium is the creation of Anniina Jokinen, who, in 1996 (which she calls the “Internet Dark Ages”), saw a need to gather together online resources on English literature and so she went ahead and did it. Her Letter from the Editor describes that as it has grown in popularity (now at 10 million page views per month!) she has had offers that would turn the site into a paid service, but for the sake of starving students everywhere she has opted to continue as a volunteer, supporting the site with unobtrusive Google ads and book and poster affiliates. Jokinen has received many (many) awards for her site’s content and design, but I think she also deserves one for generosity.

via Don’t Point That Thing At Me

More Saint Isidore

Here is an image of Isidore from the Aberdeen Bestiary. He is writing “Isidoris, de natura hominis,” that is, “Isidore, Concerning the Nature of Man.” What follows is a chapter on human anatomy and biology, which you can read in parallel translation at the Aberdeen Bestiary site.

Saint Isidore of Seville from the Aberdeen Bestiary

In my cybertravels I also discovered Medieval Latin Online, an illustrated online resource for a now defunct course at the U of Oklahoma. MLO is hosted by Laura Gibbs of the U of O, whose website (mythfolklore.net) is full of all sorts of good things. Do check it out.

MLO links to another amazing resource, Bibliotheca Augustana, which presents classic texts in every major European language plus Hebrew and Yiddish. It also has an image gallery (Museum virtuale) and audio files (Odeion virtuale). Saint Isidore would be proud.

St. John of the Cross online

Collected Works of St. John of the Cross The Discalced Carmelites of Australia have posted the full text of The Collected Works of St. John of the Cross on their website, along with some other works of Carmelite interest. The print version can be ordered from ICS Publications (that’s where I got my copy). If you’re not familiar with St. John of the Cross, he wrote The Dark Night of the Soul, an eight-stanza poem with a lengthy commentary, which he described as “the explanation of the stanzas that deal with the way a soul must conduct itself along the road leading to union with God through love, by Padre Fray John of the Cross.”

Here are the “Stanzas of the Soul”:

1. One dark night,
fired with love’s urgent longings
– ah, the sheer grace! –
I went out unseen,
my house being now all stilled.

2. In darkness, and secure,
by the secret ladder, disguised,
– ah, the sheer grace! –
in darkness and concealment,
my house being now all stilled.

3. On that glad night,
in secret, for no one saw me,
nor did I look at anything,
with no other light or guide
than the one that burned in my heart.

4. This guided me
more surely than the light of noon
to where he was awaiting me
– him I knew so well –
there in a place where no one appeared.

5. O guiding night!
O night more lovely than the dawn!
O night that has united
the Lover with his beloved,
transforming the beloved in her Lover.

6. Upon my flowering breast
which I kept wholly for him alone,
there he lay sleeping,
and I caressing him
there in a breeze from the fanning cedars.

7. When the breeze blew from the turret,
as I parted his hair,
it wounded my neck
with its gentle hand,
suspending all my senses.

8. I abandoned and forgot myself,
laying my face on my Beloved;
all things ceased; I went out from myself,
leaving my cares
forgotten among the lilies.

Crossposted at Sister Earth