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A Commentary on an Illumination of the 39th Psalm in the Gorleston Psalter

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  • A Commentary on an Illumination of the 39th Psalm in the Gorleston Psalter

    I see you Jerusalem Slim
    As my father called you
    Tottering on his kitchen chair
    Nursing his Four Roses whiskey feverishly

    Resurrected and reappearing to David
    Admonishing against the sin of gluttony

    Lord I have acceded to acedia
    To the stretch marks of indolence that mark
    My body and my years

    Christ you are standing there
    In the historiated initial - the large D of David -
    Your footprints have disrupted the circle

    The dialectic of history and left us strangely free
    As clouds indeterminate and fleeting
    The dark wind is not soft but galish
    With the brute force of immediacy
    The trembling that Abraham knew journeying

    Looking more closely at you
    I see only your right foot - the big toe
    And the next one - outside of the circle
    Your hand is raised

    You are not speaking you are blessing
    The silence without end

  • #2
    My goodness.

    I could read this endlessly, and still mine new fields.

    This is quite a write!


    • #3
      In my youth, I stumbled upon a Medieval Iconology course I took at university as an elective and a "time out" from psychology studies. It was a small group seminar (8 students) taught in the professor's office He would often display medieval paintings on a screen and literally interrogate students as to who were in the pictures, what they were doing, what was happening in the background, when was it painted, what school of painting was it from, what were the philosophical beliefs behind the picture, and so forth. I was in abject terror in most of the classes. He also
      assigned an unbelievable background reading load to the course. When one student objected that perhaps about a 1000 pages for reading for next week was excessive.,he received a verbal assault to end all assaults. In my case, I really enjoyed the illuminations in manuscripts particularly the bas de page illustrations in the margins and at the bottom of the pages. I wrote a term paper about this illumination. DWAYNE, thank you mutely for your comments here and elsewhere. Much appreciated.


      • #4
        I like this very much Tanner. I wasn't familiar with the Gorleston Psalter and did some reading (on the internet only) about it. The illustrations, as with so many old hand drawn manuscripts, are so beautiful. I've never learned to read Latin (pretty sad I know), so the text I saw was unintelligible to me. The article I read indicated that this work is known for its humorous marginalia. Do you remember anything like that?


        • #5
          Hi RLW, The entries in the margins are called bas de page and are often humorous, or provide additional gloss/interpretation of the test. Many of these illuminations were done with gold leaf and are extremely valuable. The artist/monks were extremely talented


          • #6
            I am a big fan of mediaeval drolleries, Tanner; such delightful whimsy, and such colours! As to your poem, it is a fitting reflection on the artform you have studied, revealing its thought-world winsomely, enriched by your own perspective on the divine.


            • #7
              This is extremely well-written and interesting, Tanner. The background information you provided is necessary for the uneducated among us as an aid to understanding and to introduce us to things of which we were previously ignorant for our enrichment. Much like grant, Sensei does.


              • #8
                Grant and MHenry, thank you from your comments, observations from your towering intellects are always appreciated, even when short-comings are noted.