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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.