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Sunday, 20 January 2013

The Eve of St. Agnes

Well, last year, this caused a storm, but almost every year I refer to Keat's melancholy, but interesting poem on "The Eve of St. Agnes".

It is a secularized version of the custom of a young woman putting a piece of wedding cake under her pillow the night before the feast, and then being given a dream of who her future husband is. By the way, Americans, British traditional wedding cake is a hard fruit cake with marzipan frosting, so one could put it under one's pillow without the great mess a white, soft American wedding cake would cause.

The poem is not to be read as a moral lesson, but as a restoration of the glory of the language and the
interest the Romantics had in medieval life, long gone, and suppressed by the Puritan and secular government of England. This romantic outlook is limited, but the religious and poetic imagination of the English was a reaction to the Enlightenment.

Keat's was a master poet and the poem is worth reading. It was a favourite theme of the Pre-Raphaelite painters as well. The theme is a Romeo and Juliet story.

But, today, I want to emphasize the need for poetry in our lives. We are people of the Word, if we are Catholics, and the language of poetry moves us in a different way than prose.

If you have not delved into poetry, take a minute today.

And ladies, only one small slice of cake will do.....(smile). Here is a photo of old wedding cake tins which were given to the guests for this very night.


Anonymous said...

I have a devotion to St Agnes, having been lucky enough to be able to venerate her relics in Rome a number of times.

A couple of years ago, on the day before her feast day, I decided I would make the effort to go to the early morning Latin Mass the next day to celebrate her feast. This meant getting up at 4.30am in order to get to the 7.00am Mass on time. However, later that evening I changed my mind, thinking that getting up at 4.30am was too much of a sacrifice. And so I went to bed not thinking any more about it. Early the next morning, I was woken by a horrible sound coming from my hallway which I realised was my smoke alarm. I got up with a fright, investigated the house to see if there was any smoke or fire and realising that all was ok, I went back to bed. A minute later, the same piercing noise came from the hallway. I got up again and switched the alarm off, puzzled that it would go off for no reason. As I went back to my bed, I looked at the clock and saw to my surprise that it was 4.30am. I am convinced, to this day, that it was St Agnes prodding me to go to Mass!'


Supertradmum said...

Dear LM, Those things happen to me all the time. In the past few days, not today as I would never skip Sunday, the snow was so bad I thought I would skip walking the mile to Mass. However, I woke up automatically in time to get dressed and go. Angels....