Monday, December 31, 2018

Those pages never written







This poem by Rhina Espaillat really speaks to my feelings on this New Year's Eve:


 
Too       


December thirty-one: too rich a spread,

Too much of what there is, too strange, too bright,

Too many dishes tasted that instead

Of filling, feed the hunger, every bite

Promising to be perfect – but not quite;

Too much to want, when nothing but excess

Will do, spiraling skyward like a kite.

And too late now to wish it any less.

 

Too many pearls on gold silver thread

For needlework begun by young delight

Finished by duty, if not left for dead:

This tapestry, that kinship starved on spite,

Those pages never written, safe and white

with cowardice,unwilling to confess

What the light does that makes the dark contrite.

And too late now to wish it any less.

 

Too many books meant to be read, unread

On shelves youth stocked when it believed it might;

Too much meant to be said but left unsaid

That wanted saying when the time was right;

Too much said wrong, too much held close and tight

That should have been let go, have been largess

Flung free at once and never kept from flight.

And too late now to wish it any less.

 

Face in the mirror, reading by cold light

The lines that spell your history, come bless

What one more year decrees this final night.

Much too late now to wish it any less.
 
 by Rhina Espaillat




 

My Worries and Fears




This morning I listened to an interview on the New York Times Book Review podcast.
The interviewee, Yascha Mounk, was talking about the decline of the Roman Republic, and comparing it to the present situation in the United States.
This is part of what he said. I cut and paste it from his article on the same subject:



"...the principal purpose of his book is to allow “readers to better appreciate the serious problems that result both from politicians who breach a republic’s political norms and from citizens who choose not to punish them for doing so.” Does he accomplish that ambitious goal?

 

In Watts’s telling of the Roman Republic’s agonizing death, slow-moving structural transformations gradually sowed the seeds of demise. As the population exploded and the economy became ever more sophisticated, the growing share of poor citizens started to demand redress. But since the institutions of the republic were dominated by patricians who had much to lose from measures like land reform, they never fully addressed the grievances of ordinary Romans. With popular rage against increasingly dysfunctional institutions swelling, ambitious patricians, determined to outflank their competitors, began to build a fervent base of support by making outsize promises. It was these populares — populists like Tiberius Gracchus and his younger brother Gaius — who, in their bid for power, first broke some of the republic’s most longstanding norms.

The transformation of Rome’s army compounded the challenge of growing inequality. In the early days of the republic, soldiers thought of their participation in military service as a civic duty. Commanders hoped to win great honors and perhaps to attain higher office. But by the late second century B.C., the army had essentially been privatized. Commanders knew that the plunder of new lands could garner them vast riches. Their soldiers signed up for the ride in the hope of gaining a generous allotment of land on which to start a farm. With soldiers increasingly loyal to their commanders, and commanders doing whatever it took to maximize the prospect of private profit, the Senate was no longer in charge.

 

It took a long time for these tensions to build. But once they reached a critical point, Rome’s descent into chaos and dysfunction was astonishingly swift.

 

During the century and a half between the days of Pyrrhus and the rise of Tiberius Gracchus, there had not been a single outbreak of large-scale political violence. Then Tiberius pushed through land reforms in defiance of the Senate’s veto. In the ensuing fracas, he and hundreds of his followers were murdered. The taboo on naked power politics had been broken, never to recover.

Over the next years, it quickly became normal for populist politicians to set aside longstanding norms to accomplish their goals; for military commanders to bend the Senate to their will by threatening to occupy Rome; and for rival generals to wage war on one another. “Within a generation of the first political assassination in Rome, politicians had begun to arm their supporters and use the threat of violence to influence the votes of assemblies and the election of magistrates. Within two generations, Rome fell into civil war.”

 

If we are to avoid the fate that ultimately befell Rome, Watts cautions, it is “vital for all of us to understand how Rome’s republic worked, what it achieved and why, after nearly five centuries, its citizens ultimately turned away from it and toward the autocracy of Augustus.” In a sense, the book fails in this ambition. Especially as it progresses, Watts, a professor of history at the University of California at San Diego, abandons a careful analysis of the larger trends for a blow-by-blow account of the many conflicts that divided the republic in the last century of its existence. At times, this endless onslaught of calamities — a new violation of some traditional norm, the latest commander to threaten an invasion of Rome, one more shift in the ever-fragile constellation of power — starts to numb the mind.

 

But in another sense, the sheer repetitiveness of the calamities that befell Rome only serves to underline the book’s most urgent message. If we were to make explicit the implicit analogy that runs all the way through “Mortal Republic,” we would most likely cast Donald Trump as a farcical reincarnation of Tiberius Gracchus. Like the original populist, Trump was propelled to power by the all-too-real failures of a political system that is unable to curb growing inequality or to mobilize its most eminent citizens around a shared conception of the common good. And like Gracchus, Trump believes that, because he is acting in the name of the dispossessed, he is perfectly justified in shredding the Republic’s traditions.

 

If that analogy is right, the good news is that Trump will, once the history of our own mortal Republic is written, turn out to be a relatively minor character. Far from single-handedly destroying our political system, he is the transitional figure whose election demonstrates the extent to which the failings of our democracy are finally starting to take their toll.

 

The bad news is that the coming decades are unlikely to afford us many moments of calm and tranquillity. For though four generations stand between Tiberius Gracchus’ violent death and Augustus’ rapid ascent to plenipotentiary power, the intervening century was one of virtually incessant fear and chaos. If the central analogy that animates “Mortal Republic” is correct, the current challenge to America’s political system is likely to persist long after its present occupant has left the White House. "

 He thinks our country is at the beginning of such a decline.  I tend to agree with him, and it really scares me.

Sunday, December 30, 2018

Incorrigibly Plural






These last days of December are very mild this year... no snow.

But here's a great snow poem   by Louis MacNeice that is more about the world than about snow:



SNOW 

The room was suddenly rich and the great bay-window was

Spawning snow and pink roses against it

Soundlessly collateral and incompatible:

World is suddener than we fancy it.

 

World is crazier and more of it than we think,

Incorrigibly plural. I peel and portion

A tangerine and spit the pips and feel

The drunkenness of things being various.

 

And the fire flames with a bubbling sound for world

Is more spiteful and gay than one supposes –

On the tongue on the eyes on the ears in the palms of one’s hands –

There is more than glass between the snow and the huge roses.

 Louis MacNeice

 

Saturday, December 29, 2018

When will you be coming back?

Angela Harding    Winters"



No snow here,  but still I want to post this poem by Linda Pastan:


December in the garden


"It is December in the garden,
an early winter here, with snow
already hiding my worst offenses --
the places I disturbed your moss
with my heavy boots; the corner
where I planted in too deep a hole
the now stricken hawthorne: crystals
hanging from its icy branches
are the only flowers it will know.

When did solitude become
mere loneliness and the sounds
of birds at the feeder seem
not like a calibrated music
but the discordant dialects
of strangers simply flying through?
I have tried to construct a life
alone here -- coffee at dawn; a jog
through the chilling air

counting my heartbeats,
as if the doctor were my only muse;
books and bread and firewood --
those usual stepping-stones from month
to freezing month. but the constricted light,
the year closing down on itself with all
the vacancies of January ahead, leave me
unreconciled even to beauty.
When will you be coming back?"


-  Linda Pastan, The Letter

 

 


Friday, December 28, 2018

Feast of the Holy Innocents


Today the Christian Church celebrates the Feast of the Holy Innocents, the children who were killed by King Herod's soldiers while they searched for the Christ Child.


Here we are in 2018, and children are still being killed in the name of power and politics all over the world.
Just in the last weeks, these two died of curable illnesses in US Custody on our southern border:

Jakelin Caal, age 7
 
 

Felipe Gomez Alonzo, age 8


Words fail me.



Thursday, December 27, 2018

The web in a loom

Marc Chagall,  Madonna of the Village





Sunny and thirty degrees in Maryland. No snow here - a blessing for travelers.

I like this observation from a book called 4000 years of Christmas:


"Shall we liken Christmas to the web in a loom?  There are many weavers, who work into the pattern the experience of their lives. When one generation goes, another comes to take up the weft where it has been dropped. The pattern changes as the mind changes, yet never begins quite anew. At first, we are not sure that we discern the pattern, but at last we see that, unknown to the weavers themselves, something has taken shape before our eyes, and that they have made something
very beautiful, something which compels our understanding."

-   Earl W. Count, 4,000 Years of Christmas

Wednesday, December 26, 2018

Irregular Life Begins


art by Mickey O'Neill McGrath


It's still the Christmas season, so not entirely back to irregular life.


Here's a poem by Galway Kinnell:
 

The 26th of December


Galway Kinnell1927 - 2014


A Tuesday, day of Tiw,
god of war, dawns in darkness.
The short holiday day of talking by the fire,
floating on snowshoes among
ancient self-pollarded maples,
visiting, being visited, giving
a rain gauge, receiving red socks,
watching snow buntings nearly over
their heads in snow stab at spirtled bits
of sunflower seeds the chickadees
hold with their feet to a bough
and hack apart, scattering debris
like sloppy butchers, is over.
Irregular life begins. Telephone calls,
Google searches, evasive letters,
complicated arrangements, faxes,
second thoughts, consultations,
e-mails, solemnly given kisses.

Tuesday, December 25, 2018

Blessing for the Longest Night

Christmas Eve 1928   by Carl Gaertner


One more Long Night poem, this one from Jan Richardson:


Blessing for the Longest Night

All throughout these months
as the shadows
have lengthened,
this blessing has been
gathering itself,
making ready,
preparing for
this night.


It has practiced
walking in the dark,
traveling with
its eyes closed,
feeling its way
by memory
by touch
by the pull of the moon
even as it wanes.


So believe me
when I tell you
this blessing will
reach you
even if you
have not light enough
to read it;
it will find you
even though you cannot
see it coming.


You will know
the moment of its
arriving
by your release
of the breath
you have held
so long;
a loosening
of the clenching
in your hands,
of the clutch
around your heart;
a thinning
of the darkness
that had drawn itself
around you.


This blessing
does not mean
to take the night away
but it knows
its hidden roads,
knows the resting spots
along the path,
knows what it means
to travel
in the company
of a friend.


So when
this blessing comes,
take its hand.
Get up.
Set out on the road
you cannot see.


This is the night
when you can trust
that any direction
you go,
you will be walking
toward the dawn.


—Jan Richardson
from The Cure for Sorrow

Welcome Yule!

 
art by Anyi Despacho


For many years I have loved the series by Susan Cooper … can't remember the name... but my favorite book is The Dark is Rising. Some English children edge into a world of fantasy and folklore around the Arthurian legends.  Part of it is about the Solstice. The following passage isn't from that book, but it's a lovely passage:



"So the shortest day came, and the year died,
And everywhere down the centuries of the snow-white world
Came people singing, dancing,
To drive the dark away.
They lighted candles in the winter trees;
They hung their homes with evergreen;
They burned beseeching fires all night long
To keep the year alive,
And when the new year's sunshine blazed awake
They shouted, reveling.
Through all the frosty ages you can hear them
Echoing behind us - Listen!!
All the long echoes sing the same delight,
This shortest day,
As promise wakens in the sleeping land:
They carol, fest, give thanks,
And dearly love their friends,
And hope for peace.
And so do we, here, now,
This year and every year.
Welcome Yule!!"
-   Susan Cooper, The Shortest Day


 
 
About The Dark is Rising and list of books in this series:
 
Fire on the mountain shall find the harp of gold
Played to wake the Sleepers, oldest of the old;
Power from the green witch, lost beneath the sea;
All shall find the light at last, silver on the tree.
 
When young Will Stanton discovers he has come of age as the lastborn of the Old Ones, the immortal keepers of the force of the Light, he is swept up in the age-old struggle between the powers of Light and Dark. The battles against the last dreadful rising of the Dark are waged across time in the most ancient myth-haunted places of England and Wales. Will, his ageless master Merriman, and their allies and adversaries—human and mythic alike—seek the objects of power that will tip the uncertain balance of good and evil that exists throughout the world and within the mind of man.
 
The five-book cycle, a classic work of children’s literature, is deeply rooted in the rich heritage of Arthurian legend and Celtic mythology.
 

“The mounting excitement of the narrative is well-matched by the strength of the writing, which can be as rich and as eloquent as a Beethoven symphony. Full of symbolism and allegory, the story and its implications are nevertheless clear, comprehensible, and enormously exhilarating.” — Ethel Heins, The Horn Book
 
BOOKS IN THIS SEQUENCE
 Book 1: Over Sea, Under Stone
Book 2: The Dark is Rising
 Book 3: Greenwitch
 Book 4: The Grey King
Book 5: Silver on the Tree
 
 




About the Winter Solstice

 
Here is some very interesting information about the Solstice that was posted on Wikipedia:
 
"The Winter Solstice, also known as Midwinter, occurs around December 21 or 22 each year in the Northern hemisphere, and June 20 or 21 in the Southern Hemisphere. It occurs on the shortest day or longest night of the year, sometimes said to astronomically mark the beginning or middle of a hemisphere's winter. The word solstice derives from Latin, Winter Solstice meaning Sun set still in winter. Worldwide, interpretation of the event varies from culture to culture, but most hold a recognition of rebirth, involving festivals, gatherings, rituals or other celebrations. Many cultures celebrate or celebrated a holiday near the winter solstice; examples of these include Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, New Years, Pongal, Yalda and many other festivals of light. The solstice itself may have remained a special moment of the annual cycle of the year since neolithic times. This is attested by physical remains in the layouts of late Neolithic and Bronze Age archeological sites like Stonehenge and New Grange in the British Isles. The primary axes of both of these monuments seem to have been carefully aligned on a sight-line framing the winter solstice sunrise (New Grange) and the winter solstice sunset (Stonehenge). The winter solstice may have been immensely important because communities were not assured to live through the winter, and had to be prepared during the previous nine months. Starvation was common in winter between January to April, also known as the famine months. In temperate climes, the midwinter festival was the last feast celebration, before deep winter began. Most cattle were slaughtered so they would not have to be fed during the winter, so it was nearly the only time of year when a supply of fresh meat was available. The majority of wine and beer made during the year was finally fermented and ready for drinking at this time. The concentration of the observances were not always on the day commencing at midnight or at dawn, but the beginning of the pre-Romanized day, which falls on the previous eve."
-   Winter Solstice - Wikipedia

I missed the Solstice!

art by Jan Richardson

I spent December 20-24 in Gettysburg Hospital, quite unexpectedly.  Another episode of bowel obstruction, and the doctor decided to keep me there, with IV fluid and nothing by mouth, while my traumatized stomach calmed down.  It worked.

I returned home the morning of the 24th.    So I will add several posts here, so I can catch up.

Wednesday, December 19, 2018

It is Not True




Here is a prose poem by Daniel Berrigan SJ


Advent

It is not true that creation and the human family are doomed to destruction and loss -This is true: For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son, that whoever believes in him, shall not perish, but have everlasting life.

It is not true that we must accept inhumanity and discrimination, hunger and poverty, death and destruction -This is true: I have come that they may have life, and that abundantly.

It is not true that violence and hatred should have the last word, and that war and destruction rule forever -This is true: For unto us a child is born, and unto us a Son is given, and the government shall be upon his shoulder, And his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, the Everlasting, the Prince of Peace.

It is not true that we are simply victims of the powers of evil who seek to rule the world -This is true: To me is given authority in heaven and on earth, and lo, I am with you, even unto the end of the world.

It is not true that we have to wait for those who are specially gifted, who are the prophets of the Church, before we can be peacemakers. This is true: I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh, and your sons and daughters shall prophesy, your young shall see visions, and your old shall have dreams.

It is not true that our hopes for the liberation of humanity, for justice, human dignity, and peace are not meant for this earth and for this history -This is true: The hour comes, and it is now, that true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth.

So let us enter Advent in hope, even hope against hope. Let us see visions of love and peace and justice.

Let us affirm with humility, with joy, with faith, with courage: Jesus Christ -- the Life of the world.
 
 

Source: Testimony: The Word Made Fresh, by Daniel Berrigan.  Maryknoll, NY: Orbis Books, 2004.

 


 

Tuesday, December 18, 2018

One week til Christmas





At my house, we sit in a circle of easy chairs to say our Evening Prayer, the eight of us in my local community. 
Right now, we are praying what's known as the Christmas Novena. It's meant to be sung, but we are such reluctant and terrible singers, and the songs are so high, that we pray along with it as a group of very fine singers do it on a CD.
At the end of the prayer, they sing a haunting Gregorian Chant of the Ave Redemptoris Mater.
I look at the sunset and the twilight sky at 5PM as I listen.  My mind goes back seven months to March, and Evening Prayer - sung in French- in our Motherhouse in central Paris.

It's seven or so hours later there, but still I see them.


Monday, December 17, 2018

Where weather decorates the night

painting "Christmas Eve" by Stepan Kolesnikov



Just turned in the semester grades. No one failed - hooray!

Now to turn to Christmas.

Here's a wonderful poem by a poet I've just discovered: Steven Leake:



Presence

Across the dark, a robin learns the Winter.

 A candle dissolves; frank and sensuous

 Against the extending light.

 The streets remain illegible with snow.

I travel through you; uncurling

 Where weather decorates the night

 And naves of Christmas pines

 Grasp human shadows.

Alone I go, echoing carols

 In powdered places.

 Echoes that are glorified.

 Prolonged.

Until I find you on the bench

Pressed with our pasts.

 A child again.

 Tricked and traced by Memory’s gift.

 Lasting.  Imprinted.

A proof of the year’s new world.

 
 
 

Sunday, December 16, 2018

Mid-December






Here's a poem by Gerald England:

Mid-December

"A full moon shines
over the morning frost;
the lanes are full of late-fallen leaves;
walking across the mulch
is almost as tricky
as treading over ice.

In town the carol-singers are in
crowding the shopping-mall,
while a group of muffled musicians
play by the outside market.

This year but two robins
on the early Christmas cards;
the squirrel still runs along the fence
skirting our newly-erected shed."




-   Gerald England, Mid-December

Friday, December 14, 2018

Sick


Ten years ago I was diagnosed with Stage IIb Cervical cancer.  Though the five year survival rate is 58%, I am still here!

The reason?  Very aggressive radiation.  It made me very sick, but it killed the cancer, which mercifully had not advanced to the lymph nodes.

So... radiation is the gift that keeps on giving.  It damaged my colon. Four years ago this particular
nastiness began, and I have attacks of it periodically.  My diet really helps, but every now and then,
I have an attack.  Like last night.

This is what I have, to quote from " Radiation-induced small bowel disease: latest developments and clinical guidance "  in Sage Journal: 

Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Nothing Has Hindered it

 
In 1591, The Virgin Mary appeared to Juan Diego, one of the indigenous people who lived in Mexico. She appeared on a little hill called Tepayac, outside what is now Mexico City.
 
Here is a poem about her by Dennis Siluk:
 
Roses imprinted upon rough cactus fiber cloth, thus bears the image of our Holy Mother of Heaven-
And has for nearly five-hundred years-
Roses given to Juan Diego, in 1531, turned into the image of Mary, the mother to the Son of God, and Son of Man!
No cracks, no candle smoke fading upon this image.
It lives, the image lives and the colors remain as is; as they always were-century after century; nothing more miraculous than that-

(Within the forehead of the image, is the persona of a bearded man with eyes closed, that could very well be the image within the shroud...
At different distances as in nature, the appearance changes!)

Nothing has hindered it: acid, heat, bombs- weather or alike-
The stars on her tunic, are that of the image of the winter sky, December 12, 1531, when Mary gave those Roses to Juan Diego!
Those Stars on her tunic, are viewed from outside of heaven's gates looking down (reversed); no less than a snapshot of heaven and earth!
And should you look deep, even deeper into her eyes, you will discover the image of Juan Diego, and many more of those folks who were of Diego's time!
The face of Mary, is ageless, centuries have filled her eyelids.
Her skin changes colors from Indian Olive, to a European natural complexion, you need only step back a bit, and refocus-
And the image remains day and night at 98.6 Degrees Fahrenheit... the human body temperature-

The image is a message for those far-off days, to the pagan world who worshiped the stars and the sun and earth and the moon, as gods: that she, and her Son, were above them, all were under their heels, - and hence, all those false gods in Mexico were no more than a false fabrication, of untruth.


No: 4749/4-7-2015 / Note: The author and his wife visited Mexico City, in 2002, and went to the church to see the image of "The Lady of Guadalupe" so this poem is long overdue. Information extracted, and inspired by Brother Peter Diamond, of "The Most Holy Family Monastery" and put into poetic prose. What has not been mentioned to my surprise, is why no one has, or at least Brother Diamond, not mentioned, the reflection, or replication of the image I see in the forehead of Mary, of what I believe to be a bearded man, whose eyes are closed, much like the Shroud. Of Turin, it is as plain as the shadows under her eyes (inside the image of is on her forehead are hieroglyphics)
Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/expert/Dennis_Siluk_Dr.h.c./5005

The image on his cloak:
 
 
 
a modern depiction by Rosya Hernandez:
 
 



Tuesday, December 11, 2018

Thomas Merton Walks Around Shining



Thomas Merton died fifty years ago yesterday. He was accidentally electrocuted in Thailand, where he had gone for a conference on Contemplation and Eastern Religion.

I have long looked at him as one of my spiritual fathers. He was born just a year later than my own father, and the same year as my other spiritual father, Ralph Harper.

I have read many of his books. My favorite is The Sign of Jonah.

Merton had a mystical vision in downtown Louisville Kentucky which is described this way in Conjectures of a Guilty Bystander:
“In Louisville, at the corner of Fourth and Walnut, in the center of the shopping district, I was suddenly overwhelmed with the realization that I loved all those people, that they were mine and I theirs, that we could not be alien to one another even though we were total strangers. It was like waking from a dream of separateness, of spurious self-isolation in a special world, the world of renunciation and supposed holiness… This sense of liberation from an illusory difference was such a relief and such a joy to me that I almost laughed out loud… I have the immense joy of being man, a member of a race in which God Himself became incarnate. As if the sorrows and stupidities of the human condition could overwhelm me, now I realize what we all are. And if only everybody could realize this! But it cannot be explained. There is no way of telling people that they are all walking around shining like the sun.”


From those words, I wrote this sonnet:



Thomas Merton Walks Around Shining


His hermitage stands sturdy in the sun.

The front porch longs to feel his heavy tread.

The windows wonder what it is he’s done

In Thailand in the room where he lies dead.

The little house would long to see him write

In hours when the winter sky was bleak

He found within himself  the world’s delight

Where only on the pages he could speak.

The living conscious Christ engulfed him there,

The well of seeing ,splashing into sound.

He found himself beneath the eye of God,

The God of Seeing,  tearing up the ground.

He tells his novices it’s something rare---

A love that only poets can compare.
 
 
 
 
Here he is, outside the hermitage he built and lived in , on the grounds of Gethsamani Monastery in Kentucky.
 

 

Monday, December 10, 2018

Happy Birthday, Emily Dickinson






Emily Dickinson was born on December 10, 1830.   She is one of my favorite poets.

Here is one of hers:

I DIED for beauty, but was scarce
Adjusted in the tomb,
When one who died for truth was lain
In an adjoining room.
  
He questioned softly why I failed?        5
“For beauty,” I replied.
“And I for truth,—the two are one;
We brethren are,” he said.
  
And so, as kinsmen met a night,
We talked between the rooms,        10
Until the moss had reached our lips,
And covered up our names.



The Dickinson family house in Amherst Massachusetts.  Someday I will get there to visit.


 
 
 

 

Sunday, December 9, 2018

The Wind Bird






Here's a lovely poem by Mary Oliver:


 
White-Eyes

BY MARY OLIVER

In winter

    all the singing is in

         the tops of the trees

             where the wind-bird

 

with its white eyes

    shoves and pushes

         among the branches.

             Like any of us

 

he wants to go to sleep,

    but he's restless—

         he has an idea,

             and slowly it unfolds

 

from under his beating wings

    as long as he stays awake.

         But his big, round music, after all,

             is too breathy to last.

 

So, it's over.

    In the pine-crown

         he makes his nest,

             he's done all he can.

 

I don't know the name of this bird,

    I only imagine his glittering beak

         tucked in a white wing

             while the clouds—

 

which he has summoned

    from the north—

         which he has taught

             to be mild, and silent—

 

thicken, and begin to fall

    into the world below

         like stars, or the feathers

               of some unimaginable bird

 

that loves us,

    that is asleep now, and silent—

         that has turned itself

             into snow.

 

Source: Poetry (Poetry Foundation, 2002)

Saturday, December 8, 2018

O Mother of All Delight




Today is the feast of the Immaculate Conception of Mary.

Here are some lines in praise of the Virgin Mary  by Hildegard von Bingen:

 
Your womb held the world’s joy
When heaven’s harmony
Chimed out of you like a bell,
Because, holy Virgin, within you
You bore the Christ who made
Your chasteness glow in God.
Like thick dew that livens
And greens the grass.
You, too, are an ever alive-green,
O Mother of all delight.
and
Hail, greenest stem
which in the gusting wind of the prayers
of the saints was brought forth.
Since the time has come
when you flourished amongst your friends,
hail, hail to you,
because the warmth of the sun keeps you moist
like the scent of balsam.
For the fairest flower has blossomed in you
and perfumed all scents
which had been parched.
And these all appeared in fullest greenness.