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

tirsdag 31. juli 2018

The World - a sonnet by Christina Rossetti

As the month winds to its close and I'm on the verge of returning to the duties of academic existence in Denmark, I present you with a sombre poem by Christina Rossetti that adequately describes the mixed feelings that appear at the close of a vacation at home.

The World

By day she wooes me, soft, exceeding fair:
But all night as the moon so changeth she;
Loathsome and foul with hideous leprosy
And subtle serpents gliding in her hair.
By day she wooes me to the outer air,
Ripe fruits, sweet flowers, and full satiety:
But through the night, a beast she grins at me,
A very monster void of love and prayer.
By day she stands a lie: by night she stands
In all the naked horror of the truth
With pushing horns and clawed and clutching hands.
Is this a friend indeed; that I should sell
My soul to her, give her my life and youth,
Till my feet, cloven too, take hold on hell?

søndag 29. juli 2018

Saint Olaf seated - an illumination from The Icelandic Model Book

Today is the feast of Saint Olaf, the patron saint of Norway, who died at Stiklestad north of Trondheim in 1030. He fought against an army of Norwegian nobles and the Danish king Knud, the latter having established overlordship over Norway when Olaf was sent into exile in Russia in 1028. The cult of Olaf was of great importance throughout medieval Norway, and also in the wider Nordic world. Of the few Norwegian saints, Olaf is by far the most widely and frequently depicted. In this brief blogpost, I wish to present one example of this, namely from the Icelandic Model Book, in which were drawn images from which the illuminators could see how various figures should be drawn. Olaf figures frequently in this, and below is one of the images, where he is seated, holding the axe of his martyrdom. This photograph was taken at the North-Atlantic House in Odense, when a friend and I attended the exhibition of the manuscript.

mandag 23. juli 2018

Another Song of a Fool - a poem by W. B. Yeats

For the, hopefully, quiet summer days, here is one of William Butler Yeats' perhaps lesser known poems, provided here by virtue of it being lesser known.

Another Song of a Fool

This great purple butterfly,
In the prison of my hands,
Has a learning in his eye
Not a poor fool understands.

Once he lived a schoolmaster
With a stark, denying look;
A string of scholars went in fear
Of his great birch and his great book.

Like the clangour of a bell,
Sweet and harsh, harsh and sweet,
That is how he learnt so well
To take the roses for his meat.

- From The Wild Swans at Coole, 1919

søndag 15. juli 2018

Summer reading

I'm currently enjoying a month's vacation at home in Norway. Consequently, my blogging will be quite sparse and my blogposts very brief this month. They will predominantly be snippets of summer life in the fjords, as exemplified by this little stack of books photographed at the family's cabin, containing my first batch of summer reading.