16 February 2016

Professor J R R Tolkien (Updated)

I am not a Tolkienologist ... but who can fail to be moved by these two 'newly discovered' poems ... a taster:

 ... In the dale of dark in that hour of birth/one voice on a sudden sang:/ then all the bells in Heaven and Earth/ together at midnight rang./ Mary sang in this world below:/ they heard her song arise/ o'er mist and over mountain snow/ to the walls of Paradise,/ and the tongue of many bells was stirred/ in Heaven's towers to ring/ when voice of mortal maid was heard/ that was mother of Heaven's king./ Glad is the world and fair this night/ with stars about its head,/ and the hall is filled with laughter and light,/ and fires are burning red. ...

1936; that magic decade, that sparkling inter-war literary period, has an exquisite tang to it, doesn't it ... perhaps the last age when Catholicism still had a toe in the World's cultural door; when English poetry could still be written by the pens of the Chesterbelloc and of Eliot ... the era that gave us Betjeman. How dark and joyless the time in which God's inscrutable wisdom has set us now to bear our martyrion, as we shiver in the Northern winds.

UPDATE Thanks to readers for corrections; I wrote that piece in a hurry.

Sadly, I have seen no literary comments in any of the news reporting. 


Liam Ronan said...

Happy lot, we, who have inhaled the perfumes of spring, summer, and autumn and have not forgotten such heady and disparate incenses. The cross is somehow lighter for the recollection of these. Praise God.

How terribly desolate must it be for those who nonetheless shoulder their cross never having had such past consolations as we. God grant them such visions to sustain them as we can summon up to fortify their souls.

Ben of the Bayou said...

Regretfully, England is not the only region on Earth to suffer the dark ravages of the current cultural decay. Shed a tear for us also, across the ocean.

Matthew Roth said...

It's beautiful. Tolkien obviously did not share the belief that Our Lady was assumed into heaven without the true and definite (for God anyways: we have no way of knowing how death operates on the spiritual level) end to her earthly life.

I will say that the 1930s-50s were the last time Catholics as an organized bloc had any high cultural influence. But so many Catholics and Catholic-inspired artists are in film and other media today.

Banshee said...

Thanks so much! I needed those search terms, because it looks like the text picture has been taken down from Our Lady Abingdon. Publisher and estate threats, probably, although nobody can stop a magazine owner from putting up a magazine.

Bernard Brandt said...

While, in this particular case, I prefer the English to the Greek, I will have to agree with you, Fr. Hunwicke: 'How dark and joyless the time in which God's inscrutable wisdom has set us now to bear our martyrdom, as we shiver in the Northern winds."