And was the holy Lamb of God,
On Englands pleasant pastures seen!
- And did those feet, William Blake

tirsdag 31. mai 2016

The woodlouse at the hem of St Francis' habit - a poem by Helen Dunmore



I recently finished reading Helen Dunmore's collection of poetry Bestiary from 1997 (published by Bloodaxe Books). This is the first book by Dunmore I have read, and it appeared in my pigeonhole at work because I had included this title during a inter-library loaning frenzy (in which I frequently indulge). This was a happy accident, because although I found the overall strength of the collection to be less touching than I had hoped, the book does indeed contain some very, very beautiful poems. In this blogpost I wish to present you with one of these, as indicated in the blogpost's title.


The woodlouse at the hem of St Francis' habit

The woodlouse at the hem of St Francis' habit
lay on its back, waiting for the saint to stroke it
and spin a prayer around its name.

Little woodlouse, God's armoured car
true inspiration of the Roman testudo
you and I are brothers, the same.


To the side of the picture St Clare
looked at St Francis with her face ajar
and the light comeing out of it
onto woodlice and spiders.

If a million woodlice honouring Francis
bore him on their backs, a burden
fit for their armour,
then Clare would be carried alongside
by the hundred million feet of centipedes -

she would not want more,
but in the lgiht of being a woman
she would want the same.

The bleeding Francis and Claire with the monstrance
Paris - Bibl. Mazarine - ms.0996, f.145v, unknown date, unknown provenance
Courtesy of enluminures.culture.fr






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