Saturday, April 23, 2022

Renaissance Popes XII: Clemens VII (Part I)

 Birth Name: Giulio de'Medici

Lived: 1478-1534

Regnal Name: Clement VII

Regnal Life: 1523-1534

Giulio de'Medici was born into a context of tragedy. His father, Giuliano, was the brother of Lorenzo the Magnificent, and was murdered in the Duomo of Florence, just a month before Giulio was born, in the Pazzi Conspiracy, a conspiracy that had been caused, even if one assumes inadvertently, by Pope Sixtus IV. We do not know who his mother was; Giulio was illegitimate. He was raised first by Antonio Sangallo the Elder, a famous architect, and then later by his uncle. Very early on he showed a talent for music, but in his family he was destined for greater things. He was interested in the Church, but his bastardy limited the options, so Lorenzo had him trained as a soldier, and he was enrolled in the Hospitallers. However, when his cousin Giovanni became a cardinal, Giulio spent some of his time as his assistant, and was able because of that to study canon law in Padua. The Medici were expelled from Florence in 1494, and in the years after he and his cousin wandered around the continent, until they were eventually, with the help of Pope Julius II, able to return to Florence. Giulio's cousin Giuliano di Lorenzo de'Medici was the ruler of Florence, but in practice it was Giovanni who determined policy.

Giulio's own rise began when Giovanni was elected Pope Leo X. Leo named him archbishop of Florence, then shortly afterward granted a dispensation legitimizing him, and therefore eliminating the major obstacle to his advancement in the Church; almost immediately Leo gave him the red hat. All of this occurred in 1513, which is a meteoric rise. But Giulio was quite competent, and after he spent some time overseeing matters in Florence (a position which also put him in diplomatically important situations, which he handled well), Leo had him made Vice-Chancellor in 1517. After the Fifth Lateran Council, Cardinal de'Medici took the lead in implementing the reforms required by the council; he applied them very effectively, and priestly behavior in Florence markedly improved because of it. After Leo's death, and during the reign Adrian VI, Giulio de'Medici was not less important; he was one of the few cardinals associated with Leo whom Adrian seemed to trust. In 1522, an assassination attempt was made against the cardinal, partly at the instigation of Cardinal Soderini, who attempted to convince Adrian to act against the Medici; Adrian instead arrested Soderini.

When Adrian died in 1523, everyone went into the conclave with grave worries. All of the problems that had plagued the previous conclave were expected and, if anything, the divisions among the national blocs were even worse than they had been. While it was indeed a contentious conclave, the contentiousness actually worked in Cardinal de'Medici's favor this time; the different factions of cardinals opposed to him could not make themselves cohere as an alliance, and so remained divided. Cardinal Colonna, who had previously been a major Italian outside the pro-Medici camp, had had a falling out with the French cardinals, thus severely weakening the French opposition to the Medici faction. Colonna and his allies were enough to turn the tide; Giulio de'Medici was elected Pope, and took the name Clement VII.

It all began in a promising enough way. Clement was Italian, so had none of the bias against him that Adrian as a foreigner had had. In contrast to Adrian, he had extraordinarily good aesthetic and artistic taste and talent, and a long career of excellent patronage of the arts, perhaps even superior to Leo's, due to a greater sobriety and sense of practicality. (As cardinal he was, for instance, the one who commissioned Raphael's last work, The Transfiguration.) He was a Medici, and thus had powerful Italian connections. It also probably didn't hurt that, while he had had his uncle's excellent guidance in his education, he had also inherited his father's famous good looks. He had had a long career of very effective management and administration. He had a reputation as a levelheaded but effective reformer. And he had the respect of most of the cardinals, even those who were often opposed to him. While not quite as thoroughly devout as Adrian, he was nonetheless very conscientious in his liturgical and sacramental duties. He was in excellent health and was only forty-six years old. An undeniable man of talent and hard work, a true Renaissance man: Considering only himself, there is perhaps no pope in the Renaissance who came to the office with so many advantages.

No offices were sold. He was generous with the poor but frugal with himself, and while he lacked the genius of Alexander or Julius in financial affairs, he had a solid sense of money and used it to good effect. It soon became clear that his style of administration had one significant defect, which was that he was not very confident in his own decisions; he was often indecisive and when he made a decision, he often regretted it. This was not the flaw that caused his problems, although it likely exacerbated the one that did. That fatal flaw was that in his diplomatic work under Leo, Clement had grown very good at shifting ground and alliances to balance one power against another. But toward the end of Leo's reign and through Adrian's, the situation in Europe had grown vastly worse, and the diplomatic game he was best at playing had become the most dangerous kind of game to play.

Clement came to the papacy at a point in which the Papal States balanced in an essential but precarious way between the two major powers of Europe, the Holy Roman Empire and the Kingdom of France. The French wanted Milan; they had been pushed out of Lombardy by the Holy Roman Empire in 1522. As the most stable and broadly influential Italian power, Papal State support was important for these Italian empire-games. Clement attempted to make clear that the position of the Papal States was that there should be general peace among Christian prince (to make possible the Renaissance reform-goal of a united Christian front against the Ottoman Turks), but neither side paid any attention to this. But it is also the case that the Papal States, like all of the Italian powers, wanted both major powers out of Italy if this could be managed, so, as soon as he became pope, Clement began negotiating with Venice and Milan to try to pull together an alliance that would shut France, at that time the more aggressive of the two, out of Italy in a way that did not depend on the Empire. In the meantime, he took a page out of the diplomatic book of Leo and, despite being technically by treaty an ally of the Empire, repeatedly tried to negotiate with France, to the great irritation of the Empire. It was at the point that the Emperor, Charles V, made a crucial mistake that would have ramifications for the papacy; he tried to bring the fight to the French, and invaded Provence. This invasion failed, and gave Francis I an opening into northern Italy, and at a most opportune time, since the Italian states, having just recently been hit by the plague, were not able to mount their best defense. France re-took Milan. The Empire would have been pushed entirely out of Italy if Francis had been more bold; instead, he let his army get bogged down in besieging Pavia. Things were balanced, and the Papal States could tip the scales against the French. But Clement continued to try to negotiate with the French, and, thinking that the French had a solid hold of northern Italy, at the end of 1524 he signed a secret treaty with France and Venice. The Emperor, of course, was furious, regarding it as a betrayal, even to such an extent as hinting at the possibility of throwing his support behind the Lutherans. In January of 1525, the Imperial troops managed to reach Pavia, which was still under siege by the French, and they devastated the French army. The conclusiveness of the victory gave the Empire an absolute advantage over the French. Charles was master of Europe. In fairness to Clement, all of Europe was stunned by the turn of events. Rome itself broke out into riots between the pro-Empire Colonna and the pro-French Orsini over the news, as the former tried to use the occasion to bring down their longtime rivals. But Clement had chosen the wrong side, at almost precisely the moment it had become the wrong side.

There was nothing to do. In April 1525, Clement signed a treaty with Charles in which the Papal States and Florence essentially became vassal states of the Empire, and not on particularly favorable terms for the Papal States. Further, it became clear that the Imperial representatives did not have much commitment to keeping some of the promises they made to get Clement's signature; they were so dilatory that he began to suspect that they had no intention of keeping the treaty at all. Nonetheless, things might not have become much worse, and might have become better, if it were not for one thing: France was the most coherent nation in Europe. Of all the powers, it was the most unified and least likely to crumble. Even though Charles had Francis prisoner, France was still organized enough to be a significant threat under its regent, Louisa of Savoy, who managed to sign a peace treaty with England, and who began negotiating in secret with Rome and Venice. In 1526, Francis managed to buy his freedom with the Treaty of Madrid, which gave the Empire very large concessions and renounced all claim to Italy. This sounds favorable to the Empire, but Charles V had made another mistake. Francis was now free, and by means of a treaty whose concessions to the Empire were so great that the Kingdom of France had no incentive at all to comply with it. And Francis was not the only one who saw it this way; the other powers, including the Papal States, regarded the treaty as mere extortion and therefore not binding, and none of them were happy with the idea of Europe under the hegemony of a single power. The League of Cognac formed in May; it included France, the States of the Church, Florence, Venice, and Milan. England only refused to sign because the others ignored Henry VIII's request to sign the treaty in England.

Things initially went well for the League, but the Empire returned answer with its full force. The Sforza were pushed from Milan. The Colonna family seized Rome on the Empire's behalf; they were not in a position to hold it, but Clement had to sign a treaty and pay them to leave, and by the time they had, their partisans had looted the Apostolic Palace and the churches of the city. This was not a minor thing; the papal treasury was not in good shape (it still had lingering debts from Leo's administration that Adrian had not been able to pay off completely, and the war was already not cheap). Things slipped further when the Duchy of Ferrara joined the Imperial cause.

As if all of this were not bad enough, in 1526, Ottoman forces under Suleiman the Magnificent also crushed the army of the Kingdom of Hungary in the Battle of Mohacs; the Papal States had been the only power in Europe even to send help to Hungary as it had faced the Ottomans. Peace among Christian princes so as to make possible defense against the Ottoman Empire, which had been one of the things that Clement had hoped would be a pillar of reform in his papacy, was entirely in shambles. But the worst had not happened yet. 1527 would be a very bad year.

Charles defeated the French armies in northern Italy, but overextended himself, and the most powerful army in Europe ran out of money to pay the soldiers. The soldiers mutinied, and more or less forced their commanders to march south to Rome, which they reached on May 6, 1527. The Romans, while knowing that the army was coming, had inadequate defenses, because the papal treasury was so depleted. Many of the College of Cardinals had been advocating that Clement raise the money in the one way left to him, selling offices and red hats; an Alexander VI or Julius II would have done it in a heartbeat, but Clement had refused and refused, until in desperation finally giving in, far too late actually to get the funds. The primary commander of the army, the Duke of Bourbon, was shot and killed in almost the first action, and there was no one left who could impose any moderation on the army. The Imperial army sacked the city. The Swiss Guard, in one of the most famous last stands of all time, fought a rearguard action and were slaughtered, first in the Teutonic Cemetery, and then in retreat on the steps of St. Peter's, to give the pope and the Curia time to withdraw across the Passetto di Borgo to Castel Sant'Angelo. The Roman militia was likewise slaughtered throughout the city. Churches, monasteries, libraries, palaces, and ordinary houses were looted and burned. The Vatican Library only survived because it was early on made an Imperial headquarters; the Sistine Chapel was made a horse-stall. Cardinals who had not managed to escape, even pro-Imperial cardinals, were dragged through the streets and humiliated until they could be ransomed. Cardinal Colonna followed a couple of days later, with a large crowd, intending to get vengeance for some of the treatment that his lands had suffered from the papal armies, but was so stunned by the devastation that he began taking in refugees instead. The plundering, the murder, and the rape did not stop; the corpses literally piled up in the street, and as they rotted, everyone, including the plundering army itself, began to fall sick. Thousands of bodies crowded the Tiber. And still the plundering went on; attempts to make a treaty in which the pope could surrender were blocked by German soldiers who insisted that they would not leave until they received their pay. Finally, due in part to Cardinal Colonna, a treaty was signed. Large parts of the Papal States were ceded to the Empire, and the pope would have to pay a very large sum, being allowed only to leave Castel Sant'Angelo and withdraw to Naples when he had paid the first large installment. As he had no easy way to make the payment, he stayed effectively a prisoner, and further negotiations stalled.

The Emperor Charles was somewhat baffled as to what to do in the aftermath of all this. His army in Italy was in shambles, and largely mutinous. France and England made common treaty against the Holy Roman Empire, with several Italian powers eventually defecting to them over it. Parts of the Empire, particularly Spain, were on the edge of rebellion as the news of the sack spread. Charles's own reputation as a defender of the Catholic faith was in ruins; he struggled to convince people that it had not happened on his orders. It was all Clement's fault, he insisted; given that he was obviously still holding the pope prisoner, his protestations did no good, as reaction slowly began to build against him. Somewhat desperately, he pushed through another treaty to try to salvage the situation. According to the terms of the treaty, the pope would be restored if he would promise the standard platform of Renaissance reform -- summon a general council, as a neutral power seek peace among the Christian princes, war against the Turks. That part was to try to make Charles look like a defender of the Church again. As surety, the Emperor would have hostages and hold several regions of the Papal States. That part was to try to make it look more like a victory for the Empire. A more reasonable payment schedule was laid down, but the pope was in no position to comply with this one, either, and it had to be modified again later. Finally, on December 6, 1527, the Imperial troops, having been paid, withdrew and Clement could leave Castel Sant'Angelo, although the city of Rome was still not safe from occasional plundering and was being ravaged by plague. He fled to Orvieto, destitute.

The Sack of Rome was perhaps the most shocking thing to happen in the papal tenure of Clement VII, but it was not the only terrible thing afoot by this time, for the world had become very big and busy. The Lutheran movement continued to spread in Germany. The followers of Zwingli continued to spread in Switzerland. The Church was obviously in the process of cracking in Sweden. The Church was, less obviously, beginning to crack in England. Suleiman the Magnificent had an open path to Vienna. And the pope had nothing but debts and ruins with which to face these problems.

Friday, April 22, 2022

Dashed Off VIII

 The rites of one's life should reflect one's liturgy (divine service) before God.

perversion of rites (e.g., Judas's kiss)

We pray so that we might merit the divine gifts we have received.

Reading is a playing with signs, but a structured form of playing.

Augustine recognizes the reading of Cicero's Hortensius as changing the nature of his prayers; this happens again with the Tolle lege.

Without love, no one can interpret well.

ultrasounds as ways of being with the baby

kinds of 'probable argument'
(1) A suggests B given prior experience.
(2) A suggests B as the simplest possibility.
(3) A guarantees B if not-yet-excluded impediments can be excluded.
(4) From A, approximately B can be determined.

Rule is in part by symbolic presence.

the role of self-restraint in Hanfeizi

The beast has its skin and the person has his bearing.

Harmony requires ritual that fit us together.

Societies degrade through semiotic corruption.

extensive vs. intensive persecution

The divine is such that there can be no 'number of gods'.

positions that have been taken on objective causality
(1) object is sine qua non cause
(2) object is internal formal cause
(3) object is external formal cause
(4) object is efficient cause

To move as beloved is to move as it were as a first mover; the beloved is the first mover of the lover qua lover. What moves as beloved does not, so far, move as a means to another.

There is a unity prior to number -> causation is prior to time

duty -> right to duty -> duty to respect right to duty -> right to what is required for respect of right -> duty to respect right to respect

Disregard for biological ends introduces incoherences throughout practical reason.

"We can only express a sense of wonder about the beginning. The absolute abided endlessly, deep within Himself then." (Sri Guru Granth, Raamkalee, First Mehl, Sidh Gosht 940)
"The spiritual wisdom given by the Guru is the True sacred shrine of pilgrimage, where the ten festivals are always observed. (AGGS, First Mehl, 687)

Sublime style is an echo of magnanimity.

ubi circumscriptivum vs ubi definitivum

God as that to which all are related

the Divine Liturgy a the school of true mysticism.

Augustine, DT 10: All inquiry presupposes some prior notitia; the mind can inquire into itself; therefore it has some kind of notitia of itself. For things for which we have no direct acquaintance, we rely on general concepts or form representative images; but mind knows itself before other minds (and thus is not using general concepts) and before it can receive representation from testimony, signs, or imagination. The reason is the mind's self-presence, in which the whole mind knows itself as a whole (because it is simple), although not knowing he whole about itself. And in this it knows it knows, lives, exists, in a way that cannot be doubted. It can, however, get confused if it relies too much on the senses and sensible representation, which leads to adjoining physical features to the mind. (NB that this is not some abstract diagnosis but based on Augustine's own experience of having to learn how to separate out the corporeal.)

The Pharaoh's magicians set the pattern for all generations of miracle-debunkers.

affatic sense of the external world // kinaesthetic sense of the external world

Llull's Book of the Order of Chivalry, chapter 1, lays out a program for knighthood as a profession by analogy with other professions (esp. jurists, doctors, and clerics), complete with professional ethics and training. Chapter 2 considers the knight's professional office, i.e., duties, and the ways in which one may violate such duties.

figures of speech as entes verbalis based on relation and negation

In matters of inquiry, one must often speculate in order to accumulate.

formal gifts to God (e.g., contrite heart) and instrumental gifts to God (e.g., sacrifice)
natural gifts and deemed gifts
gifts for shared having and released gifts

faith in the face of presence, faith in the face of mediated presence, faith in the face of absence

Partisan politics is often a form of escapism.

all poets steal;
they steal your feelings,
they steal your words,
they steal like princely lords

Whewell's cosmological argument and taking the world as a whole as a sign

There is nothing about deeply felt cares that makes them life-purposes; they are just cares.

Much of creative discovery is accident and repair.

Liberalism depends for its successes on a generally literate populace.

We use the past to protect ourselves from the past.

It can be difficult to outmaneuver wealthy institutions rhetorically, because they can literally pay people to play word games.

Marriage is itself a form of civic engagments, as is child-rearing.

convalescence immunity vs vaccination immunity, in matters of heresy

ontological argument for free cause: multiple possibilities -> some free cause

Mary became the Mother of God
that God might die upon the Cross,
a common-making of the style
of man and God, of Word and flesh.

"A conjecture is a positive assertion that participates in truth as it is, but in otherness." Cusanus

act of intellect vs use of reason
(faculty-use should not be confused with the immediate acts of the faculty)

Christ's washing of the feet as a picture of the Incarnation

"Action is always directed toward specific effects to be accomplished." Shankara

three means in cognition
medium sub quo: light
medium quo: impressed species
medium in quo
 -- materially: reflection in mind
 -- formally: expressed species/mental word

by relation (intellect): verum
by relation (will): bonum
by negation: unum
-- -- by relation: idem
-- -- -- -- by negation: diversum
-- -- by negation: multitudo (De pot. q9 a.7)

ens : esse :: res : quidditas
res as being compared to being (being under relation to being)

each of the attributes of being as an order of metaphysics

Per se evidence is rooted in the apprehension of being.

Church as reditus

All knowing of creatures involves conversion.

The Incarnation is divine revelation properly and preeminently; Scripture is divine revelation by divinely inspired signs of the Incarnation, the word divinely reflective of the divine Word.

"The Church is constituted through sacraments, is nourished by and extends itself through them." Staniloe

three aspects of participation: instrumetnality, exemplarity, ordering

the Church instituted by Christ, constituted by the Spirit

Pneumatology and Christology are the same thing seen from different directions, for the Spirit rests on Christ and is the Spirit of Christ.

consecration of churches an image of chrismation

Hume in T 1.4.1 is describing what we actually find in Descartes's Meditation One.

the surge of language against the shore of form

A sufficient reason for a free choice is a sufficiency for it being a free choice.

Grace is much harder to accommodate than people generally want to think.

A being 'goods' itself.

The hero, like the saint, has obligations to an institution.

'Mine' always unites me with more than myself.

The world is a self-diffusive goodness within which beings appear.

"Faith is truly a good for everyone; it is a common good." Pope Francis

State power must be visible to be contestable.

With the virtue of magnificence, one treats one's own wealth as having an element of service to common good.

1 Thess 2:13 -- the word of God (logon theou) is from the apostles
2 Thess 2:15 -- expressed either in spoken word or by letter

1 Tim 5:18 seems to refer to Luke 10:7 (the only known match).

qua-concepts and instar-concepts

Nothing can be cognized distinctly without verbum mentis.

Every celebration of the Eucharist is celebration by the relevant bishop, either in person or through a priest as proxy.

The point is not to change the world; the point is to be wise, and that means in part to stop being a fool always wanting to change the world.

Over and over again, we find that the negation of religion is something much like religion.

art deco : dwarves :: art nouveau : elves [who is the first to make this analogy?]

"The fact that the proof of a theorem consists in the application of certain simple rules of logic does not dispose of the creative element in mathematics, which lies in the choice of the possibilities to be examined." Courant & Robbins

Wine like red-blackness,
darkened like death,
brooding like spirit,
burning like anger,
boundless like mist,
storms in the face of the sea.

Homer describes the appearance of things not by color as such but by light-effect.

approximation by similarity, by contiguity, by condition

(1) There are natural corporate entities (e.g., humanity, family, church, etc.).
(2) Artificial corporate entities may be formed by custom only by particular authoritative stipulation or by general statutory stipulation.
(3) As corporate entities always involve a sphere of responsibility, they always have a head of some kind (which may be another corporate entity).

the hodegetrian quality of the Church (the Notes as ways in which the Church is sign of Christ)

humanitarian and antiquarian lines of responsibility with respect to cultural heritage
(the names are from Matthes, in slightly different context; antiquarian is not really the right term for it; it is more like a 'common treasure of humanity' line; humanitarian treats cultural heritage as instrumental to the requirements of human life)

"Burning books is not the same as burning bodies, but when one intervenes...against the destruction of churches and books one arrives just in time to prevent the burning of bodies." Lemkin

"For whatever cause a country is ravaged, we ought to spare those edifices which do honor to human society." De Vattel

An artifact of universal significance is generally more national than other artifacts, not less; the Forbidden City is more Chinese given its universal significance for all humanity, Chichen Itza is more Mexican for being a universal treasure, etc. This is because universal significance heightens, rather than weakens, the responsibilities of the possessing nation. (Note that this can cause a problem when different kinds of possession are involved, as with the Elgin marbles.)

No natural property can be expressed, represented, or ascribed without normative terms, concepts, or presuppositions.

The relation between description and what is described is at least partly normative.

All ecclesiastical offices preexist in Christ as their exemplar.

The Church is both sacramentally and socially an expression of Christ.

the episcopacy as an ampliation of priesthood

Christ physically, Christ morally (Church as the society representing Christ authentically), Christ mystically (Church as the Mystical Body)

sacramental modalities vs moral modalities for sacramental characters

religious consecration as a modality of the confirmational character
-- this would mean that it is more like episcopacy than orders, and explains why it both seems like a major sacrament but is not one, especially if it gives a 'natural real moral entity'.
-- 'sacramentum tantum : is this the profession or the consecration itself? Seems more likely to be the latter. Profession as sine qua non.
-- JP II, Redemptionis Donum, linnks profession of vows to fuller development of *baptismal* consecration, but this could perhaps be regarded as specifically concerend with the vows.
-- look more closely at Keller, "Why is Religious Profession Not a Sacrament?"
-- vows and professions are just parts of a broadly religious life under natural life; the profession on its own cannot give a modality.
-- look at Orthodox discussions of monastic tonsure
-- NB that Aquinas holds that minor orders imprint a character (III Supp.35.2); this differs from tonsure
-- the consecration itself as solemen vow/profession before God and the Church
-- solemn vow as promise with some 'traditio'

the Church as sacramentum secundum dici; major and minor sacraments as sacraments secundum esse

The important distinction in politics is not between right and left but between broad and narrow.

exemplar causes as explaining the possibility of something coming to be

Thursday, April 21, 2022


 I was somewhere on Twitter looking for reading recommendations -- which seem to be harder and harder to find -- and came across a tweet, linking to an essay, arguing that cursive writing was obsolete and should be replaced with architectural lettering.* While it was serious, it was not intended to be an obnoxious claim, so I will leave it in a graceful anonymity. Like most claims about something being obsolete, it's simply untrue that cursive is obsolete; use of it has undeniably declined but there are still large numbers of people who use it on at least a semi-regular basis, and certainly more than use architectural lettering (which I would suspect is itself undergoing a much steeper decline as the primary people who use it have increasingly shifted to using computers).  Most claims about this or that being 'obsolete' are expressions of a wish rather than descriptions of a fact; people don't go around proclaiming in public that the 5-1/4 floppy disk is obsolete, because it genuinely is obsolete, and almost nobody even thinks about it much at all.

But it all led me to think of other cases. When I was growing up there were people who would argue that pen-and-paper was obsolete because now we had calculators. As far as I can tell, the result of educational programs in which calculator was substituted for longhand calculation was not an increase in people who could do advanced mathematics, but an increase in people who can't do even ballpark estimation of fractions or percentages, whether in their heads, on paper, or with a calculator, because they never actually learned how any of it works. (As a perhaps-unfair contrast, I don't know if anyone is doing it today, but for years one of the most lauded college computer science programs in the world had its introductory students doing everything with pen and paper -- you weren't allowed to use a computer, you had to do all the computing on paper in a particular format that kept track of the various computing functions, so you'd write your program, and calculate and follow the numbers through every step of the diagram-machine. People swore by it, because students didn't just learn a program language; they learned exactly what their programs did.) And other uses of 'obsolete' to argue about some educational program change crowd to mind.

I think my view of it all is this. You should not trust anyone trying to convince you that anything learnable is obsolete; this is a term that is only appropriate to tools with very specific purposes. Moreover, I think that if you are actually teaching it, it is not obsolete. If people are learning shorthand, shorthand is not obsolete. If people are learning Old Norse, Old Norse is not obsolete. If people learn how to build a steam engine, steam engine design is not obsolete. If people are learning it, it is not obsolete. And part of this is that, if you can learn something, you genuinely have options now that you wouldn't have at all if you didn't. If you keep up your learning of it, even if only by refreshing your memory, you continue to have those options. Maybe you'll use your Boyd's syllabic shorthand or your Gregg shorthand, and maybe you will not; but as long as you know it, it is not obsolete, it is just, at most, uncommon. Perhaps it stops being mainstream and becomes a hobbyist's field, perhaps it becomes less a general field and more a specialized one, but there is no sense in which it is obsolete. What can be learned and retained has no obsolescence.


* Besides obsoleteness, the other criticism of cursive was that it is so often illegible. I confess I've never understood this criticism. Precisely one of the points of cursive is that it lets you literally scribble things down. Cursive, unlike printing, is highly flexible; when scribbled it is a poor man's shorthand and when prettied-up it is a poor man's calligraphy; its range is not infinite,  and its scope does not fit every situation, but it is an excellent demotic. It's like sketching; you don't need blueprint-precision for most needs, you just need to be able to throw down some lines that people can more or less understand. It would be absurd to say that sketching should not be taught because it is not drafting. In my own case, I tend to print notes and scribble first drafts of poems and things in cursive, and this works beautifully. Even when printing, I use cursive as italics. There are lots of things you can still do with cursive, even without being careful about penmanship.

Wednesday, April 20, 2022

Two Poem Drafts


Holy Simurgh,
your sacral gems
joy have brought me;
brightly shining,
your feather heals
the faithful heart,
making holy
the mind of man.
Sevenfold grace
like garment fair
adorns your form
with heaven's fire.
Like burning brand
I bear that flame
as foemen fall
before my face.
My wings rise up,
on fresh wind borne;
I fly the sky,
with freedom soar.


My heart is a knot
only my true love can untie;
her name is Wisdom,
the fairest maid, but she is shy.
In a castle far
she sits at her wheel and she spins
with a thread of thought
and shining light, free from all sins,
to weave kingly robe
for one who sets all aside,
new knight of the cart,
who overcomes all sin of pride.
My own honor pales
beside her sunlight-splendid smile,
to receive merci
outshines all imperial style.
I go on a quest
through dangerous, uncanny lands
with only one goal:
to put my tied heart in her hands.
Fair maid, have mercy!
Let not your daungier set a wall
between you and me,
for, Lady, I gave you my all.

Tuesday, April 19, 2022

Renaissance Popes XI: Hadrianus VI

 Birth Name: Adriaan Florensz Boeyens

Lived: 1459-1523

Regnal Name: Adrian VI

Regnal Life: 1522-1523

Adriaan Boeyens was born in Utrecht in the Netherlands (and he usually referred to himself only as 'Adriaan of Utrecht'); he studied under the Brethren of the Common Life and, eventually, the University of Leuven. He knew Erasmus personally; Erasmus had been a student in his classes, and Adriaan later offered him a position at the university, although Erasmus declined. Adriaan was quite successful , btu he eventually had to leave university life when, due to his reputation as a teacher, he began to be appointed tutor to the royal families of the Holy Roman Empire. One of his pupils, in fact, became the Holy Roman Emperor, Charles V. In 1515, while Charles was still Duke of Burgundy and the Lord of the Netherlands, he sent Adriaan to Spain as an ambassador; Charles wanted to convince his uncle Ferdinand that he, Charles, was a better choice to succeed King Ferdinand as ruler of Castile and Aragon than Charles's brother (also called Ferdinand). Adriaan was successful, and as a reward, since King Ferdinand died shortly afterward and Charles became Charles I, King of Spain, Charles had him named Bishop of Tortosa in Spain. Adriaan went to Spain, and gave up all of his benefices in the Netherlands to do so. He seems to have thought it a temporary position, but in 1516, Charles named him Grand Inquisitor of Spain. It was while he was in this position that he was chosen by Pope Leo X to be one of Leo's many new cardinals; Adriaan had a good reputation, but it is also possible that Leo saw him as an obvious way to sweeten relations with Charles.

In 1519, Charles was named the Holy Roman Emperor, now Emperor Charles V, and as he was returning to the Netherlands because of it, he named Adriaan the Regent of Spain. Charles had not been on great terms with the Spanish, and shortly after he left a number of revolts broke out, in what soon became known as the War of the Comunidades of Castile (the comunidades were the Spanish version of local city councils). The rebellion began in Toledo, then spread quickly, and violently, to Segovia, Salamanca, Burgos and elsewhere. It was not entirely focused; some of the rebels, the comuneros, wanted to break into independent city-states, whereas others wanted a monarchy under a Castilian, but the most immediate result, beside the spreading riots, was that many cities across Castile stopped paying any taxes at all. Adriaan sent the royal artillery against Segovia, where the riots were especially bad. The result was devastating; much of the city was leveled and, angered by this outcome, the rebellion began spreading even faster through Spain. Adriaan himself had to flee Valladolid as things continued to get worse, and the Spanish army began falling apart. A new revolutionary government was founded, with Queen Joanna (Charles's not-quite-sane Castilian mother) as a purely ceremonial figurehead. Charles in the meantime kept demanding taxes from Castile, depsite Adriaan's attempts to explain the situation to him. When Adriaan finally got through to him the gravity of the situation, he gave Adriaan Castilian co-regents, to make their complaints about the lack of rule by Castilians moot, and backed Adriaan as the latter spearheaded a recruitment drive among the nobility to build up the royal army again. The comuneros began to fall part; Queen Joanna was not as pliable as they hoped, nor as willing to be a figurehead, and their opponents, recovering from the shock of their early success, began to pull themselves together in effective ways. A series of military defeats tore them apart, and when Charles returned to Spain in 1522, the rebellion was mostly dead. A very large number of people had supported it though, so while examples were made of the worst offenders, Charles issued a general pardon in November of 1522.

Adriaan's life was in the meantime changing, although he did not know it at first. Leo had died on December 1, 1521, and the papal conclave began on December 28. It was a tangled affair. The major European powers -- Charles V, Francis I, and Henry VIII -- went all-out in the attempt to get a papal candidate who would be favorable to them. The past several popes had been a thorn in the side of the European kings, and they were not going to let it happen again. They sent huge sums of money in order to try to sway the electors, but they ran into a snag. Leo had massively expanded the College of Cardinals, and so the sums of money, which would have been more than enough before, were now too small for any of the three to buy enough votes, particularly since they were competing against each other. The college, on the other side, ran into the problem that there were now so many papabile that they could not come to any agreements. Giulio Cardinal de'Medici was easily in the best position, since he could sway a majority of the Italian faction, but even he kept coming up short. Recognizing that he could not get the votes, he tried to back several other Italian candidates, but he still always fell short. Finally, he suggested the most important cardinal who was not present at the conclave -- Adriaan of Utrecht. This finally shook things up enough to change the situation, because, of course Cardinal Adriaan, former tutor of the Holy Roman Emperor and current Regent of Spain, could get the support of the Imperial faction, and Cardinal de'Medici could pull a majority of the Italians. This might still not have been enough, except that Tommaso Cardinal Cajetan argued so eloquently for the absent cardinal's good qualities that he was able to sway a number of otherwise uncommitted cardinals. Cardinal Colonna, Cardinal de'Medici's major Italian rival, could see where the winds blew and he put his backing behind Adriaan, as well. Adriaan was elected. When the Romans were told who was pope, they were confused, since Adriaan of course could not come out and meet them, since he was in Spain. As they slowly understood over the next several weeks, they became furious that the cardinals had elected a foreigner rather than an Italian. (A number of Italian cardinals, particularly those who had not voted for him but also a few who did for purely political reasons, were somewhat less than happy at this, as well.) And Adriaan himself arrived in Rome in August, where he took the name Adrian VI.

Adrian's papal tenure started out very rockily. Alexander and Julius had been very good with money, although in different ways, but Leo had no money sense at all. He was extremely generous, and gave help freely to those in need; he continued Julius's large-scale projects, like the new St. Peter's Basilica; he started his own projects (unsurprisingly, since he had the pick of the best artists of the day, including Raphael, Michelangelo, and so forth, who had been coming to Rome through the papal administrations of Alexander and Julius); he fought some very expensive wars; and being a Medici who was used to high life, he lived quite luxuriously. Leo had received a large treasury surplus from Julius, but all of that had long since dissipated, and the debts of the papacy that he left were extraoardinary. One of the first things Adrian had to do was pawn a very large portion of the papal art collections, tapestries, and the like, just to cover the debts.

Nor was money the only problem. The Romans, although they didn't know him, in the xenophobic fashion of Renaissance Italy already hated him. As he began to attempt the reform of a number of practices, he found himself stonewalled and obstructed by a number of cardinals, particularly Italian cardinals. The fact that he saw himself as having a responsibility to do some reforming of the Roman Curia itself, reducing some of the privileges of the cardinals, made things worse. Many of Adrian's ideas for reform were ahead of their time, and would be implemented much later -- but in Adrian's day they were new and foreign ideas. The Holy Roman Empire quite clearly thought of him as a puppet pope, with Charles V sending him a very long wishlist, and the Imperial ambassador kept trying to interfere and meddle even before he was actually crowned pope. One of the things that the Holy Roman Emperor particularly wished was for Adrian to bring the Papal States into the league against the French again; Adrian's refusal put him in an uncomfortable position. 

And, as a man whose lifestyle  was quite simple and plain in comparison with that of Leo (the Italians, of course, regarded him as miserly), he was not the extraordinary patron of the arts that Leo had been. He caused considerable astonishment to the Italians when he started telling people that he did not want to live in the Apostolic Palace because it was too grandiose, and was thinking about building a simpler house. He likewise sharply reduced the papal staff, to the fury of a great many people who had done well under Leo. (While it saved a great deal of money, it also had the unintended consequence of slowing everything down, and a common complaint throughout Adrian's papal tenure is that nothing was ever done efficiently or quickly, either because there weren't enough people working on it or because the people who knew most about this or that were no longer employed in the papal household.) Moreover, he does not actually seem to have had much artistic taste at all; he dismissed the classical statuary as heathen works and began to shut down projects by Raphael and others that were already partly done. Support for poets almost completely collapsed; Adrian liked well-written history, and that was the limit of his literary taste. It was perhaps inevitable that the Italians regarded him as a stingy and uncivilized Dutch barbarian. Nonetheless, while opportunities for artists began to dry up, it wasn't a complete desert; Adrian liked explicitly religious art and continued to give some modest support for that, and he continued the building of St. Peter's.

Besides the reform of the Curia, Adrian's other major goal for reform was to unite the Christian princes of Europe against the Turks. If there was any time to do it, then was the time. Suleiman the Magnificent in 1520 and under him the Ottoman Empire was having a very good period. He had seized Belgrade to the north, and then turned his attention to the island of Rhodes in the south, which under the Hospitaller Knights stood as a major block against Ottoman movement in the Mediterranean. He massively built up his logistical capabilities for naval battle and laid siege to Rhodes. It was a hard, difficult battle, with the Ottomans losing tens of thousands of soldiers and sailors, but the Knights Hospitaller, having no significant help, found themselves in a hopeless position, and negotiated to hand over the island and leave for Malta. Thus Rhodes fell in 1522, and now the Ottomans had far greater power over the whole Mediterranean than they had ever had before, giving them a vast power to interfere with the shipping of Christian Europe. But, as usual, actually organizing anything to do about it was infinitely harder than recognizing that something probably should be done about it. Plague hit Rome in 1522, as well, bringing almost everything to a standstill for several months.

The expansion of the Lutheran reform movement, as an increasingly dangerous rival of the Renaissance reform movement, continued. In December 1522, the Diet of Nuremberg opened, and Adrian sent a representative to the Diet to promise that the Roman Curia was being reformed and to insist that the edict against Lutheranism that had been passed by the Diet of Worms should be implemented. Although Worms had called for Luther's arrest, nothing had even been done about it, and outside of some places in the Low Countries, there was not much of an interest in the local princes and magistrates in actually enforcing the Edict of Worms. The Diet declined, however, to do anything about the matter, and the Edict of Worms continued to be unenforced. The Lutherans actively abused Adrian as the mouthpiece of Satan, and many German princes, already inclined to be anti-clerical, were at least not willing to press the matter, and in some cases were actively sympathetic. In the meantime, due to Olaus Petri, Lutheranism had begun to spread in Scandinavia, and due to the work of Ulrich Zwingli, Switzerland was beginning to pull away from Rome, as well. The dilatory Renaissance reformation was finding itself suddenly, and more and more alarmingly, outpaced by the swift-moving Lutheran counter-reformation.

In the meantime, Adrian had other things on his plate. During the reign of Leo X, the Papal States had come to be in considerable disorder. Adrian throughout the rest of 1522 and into 1523 worked to set things straight, making peace with local governors, establishing treaties that strengthened alliances, and so forth. He was extraordinarily successful at this, even reconciling Francisco Maria della Rovere. Adrian hoped that this would put him in a better position to pull together a crusade against the Ottoman Empire. He was sorely mistaken. As word of the fall of Rhodes spread -- and more slowly, was believed -- his position became a bit stronger, and he was finally able to push through some (very unpopular) tax collections in the States of the Church to raise money for an expedition. But the powers of Europe were still caught up in the endless jockeying among the Empire, France, and England. When Adrian tried to impose a truce, France threatened that if he continued, they would seize him and elect an antipope, and then stopped sending any revenue to Rome. Adrian throughout everything had been trying to put off the Emperor's demands that he join the anti-French league, but this made it impossible for him not to do so.

Adrian, however, had begun to be unwell. He received unction and died on September 14, having been pope for just over twenty months. The Romans rejoiced at his death. Thus ended the sober-minded academic who had done so well as a teacher, and then, once he was raised out of the academic life to rule, found himself saddled with endless unhappiness and misfortune. Dealt many bad hands in a very short period of time, he played them well, yet every small problem solved seemed to be replaced only by bigger problems with no obvious solution.

But he had avoided disaster. The next pope would not be able to do so.

Links of Note, Noted

 * Huaiyu Wang, The Lost Confucian Philosopher: Gu Hongming and the Chinese Religion of the Good Life (PDF)

* Rebecca DeYoung, Power Made Perfect in Weakness: Aquinas's Transformation of the Virtue of Courage (PDF)

* Lea Canto, Thales -- 'the first philosopher'? A troubled chapter in the historiography of philosophy

* Danielle D'Onfro & Daniel Epps, The Fourth Amendment and General Law (PDF)

* Crispin Sartwell, Truth is real, at

* Ann-Sophie Barwich, The lady vanishes, on Mary Hesse, also at

* Zhengmi Zhouhang, Beauty as a Symbol of Morality (PDF)

* Hans Thomas Adriaenssen & Lodi Nauta, Robert Boyle and Natural Kinds (PDF)

* Michael W. Hickson, A Brief History of Problems of Evil (PDF)

* Markku Roinila, Common Notions and Instincts as Sources of Moral Knowledge in Leibniz's New Essays on Human Understanding (PDF)

* Fabrizio Macagno, Secundum Quid and the Pragmatics of Arguments: The Challenges of the Dialectical Tradition (PDF)

* Francesco Binotto, Can God Immediately Produce a Necessary Effect? Some Remarks on Gloria Frost's Aquinas and Scotus on the Source of Contingency (PDF)

Monday, April 18, 2022

Fortnightly Book, April 17

 A little behind on this, of course, because of Easter weekend. I've done three Umberto Eco books for the fortnightly book -- The Name of the Rose, Foucault's Pendulum, and The Island of the Day Before -- and The Mysterious Flame of Queen Loana: An Illustrated Novel (published 2004) has been sitting on my to-do pile for at least two years, so I think I'll go ahead and do that one. 

Yambo, short for Giambattista Bodoni (also the name of a typographer), is an owner of a shop for antique books who has a stroke that causes an unusual case of amnesia. He can no longer remember details of his life, but he can remember anything he has ever read. Trying to recover his memories, he searches through the documents he has in his bookshop. Eventually he recovers childhood memories, but there is one memory that he cannot quite capture -- the memory of his true love.

Sunday, April 17, 2022

Snorri Sturluson, The Prose Edda


Opening Passage: The first two paragraphs of the Prologue, which I think are important in capturing the principles underlying the book's approach to the stories of the Norse gods and heroes:

In the beginning, almighty God created heaven and earth and all that pertains to them. Lastly he created two people, Adam and Eve, and from them came clans, whose descendants multiplied and spread across the whole world. But as time passed, people became dissimilar from one another. Some were good and held to the right beliefs, but the large majority turned to the desires of this world and neglected God's commandments. For this reason God drowned the world and all its living things in a flood, except for those who were on the ark with Noah. After Noah's flood, eight people remained alive, and they inhabited the world and from them are descended the families of man.

Again, as before, when their numbers had grown and they had settled throughout the world, the majority of mankind loved worldly desires and ambition. They abandoned their obedience to God, going so far that they no longer desired to name God. Who then was able to tell their sons about God's wondrous deeds? Thus they lost God's name, and nobody could be found anywhere in the world who knew his maker Nevertheless, God granted men the earthly gifts of wealth and happiness to enable them to enjoy the world. He also gave them the wisdom to understand all earthly things and all the separate parts that could been of the sky and the earth.... (p. 3)

Summary: If there is one thing that strongly suggests that the traditional view, that Snorri Sturluson is the author of The Prose Edda, is right, it's that the structure fits completely with Snorri's taste for a big canvas. The Edda picks the biggest canvas of all: In the beginning, God created the world. He also created human beings, and although they lost knowledge of God their creator, by His providence and mercy they prospered into the great tribes of the world. Over time, because they understand the world better than divine things, people came to the conclusion that the world was a living thing, based on the many analogies between physical features of the world and animals and plants. Slowly they developed the inference that there was a controlling power of the world, of some kind, and under the impetus of these psychological impulses, the different tribes and clans of the world developed languages, each in its own way.

So we have Genesis and philosophy contributing to the framing of our work, but Snorri isn't done yet. The world is divided into three parts, Europe in the west, Asia in the east, and in the middle a place in which all the benefits of both blend, and because of this the people grow wise and skillful beyond all others. At the very heart of this middle realm was the city of Troy. A fantastic realm of twelve kingdoms under a high king, the people of Troy were of heroic quality, having every human excellence to a degree few others can compare. One lineage of these people, that of Munon or Mennon, who was married to Troan, the daughter of High King Priam, is particularly important; Munon had a son, Tror, or, as we call him, Thor, who married Sibyl, also known as Sif, and from them sprang an extraordinary family that passed through the generations until it gave birth to a man named Voden, or as we call him, Odin, a man skilled in every kind of magic and prophecy available to man. Odin was interested in high adventure and intrigued by the opportunities for it that the northern realms seemed to provide, so he and a great many people set off on a journey northward, bringing with them wondrous things that only the people of Troy could make. Wherever they went, other peoples were awed, and the legends of them grew. They settled in a place called Saxland, where they prospered, and among their descendants are the Volsungs. But Odin seems to have been restless; he set out north again, coming to Jutland, or, as it was known then, Reidgotaland; he stayed there a while, and the Skoldungs (i.e., the Scyldings). Finally, and most pertinently to our work, he came to Sweden, where he and his people inhabited a land near the realm of a king named Gylfi. Gylfi became curious of these Asians, or, as his people called him, Aesir, and wished to discover more about them, and from this we get The Prose Edda.

I've spent a bit of time on this Grand Unified Theory of All European Myth and Epic that we find in the Prologue, in part because I think it is essential for understanding a few things about this work that people are sometimes reluctant to recognize. First, it is explicitly a Christian work, and a presents a Christian theory of mythology, in which Christianity is true. But it is also a view in which the pagan myths are not wholly false. There is a core to them that is true, and they trace out a great and noble heritage. However, they are distortions and (as we shall see) in many cases deliberate distortions. And this is important as well. We are given here a euhemeristic account of the major characters of Norse mythology (more than I've explicitly mentioned); it is put forward as straightforwardly true. In the next section of the Edda, the Gylfaginning, we will get an entirely different account of these characters. This is not, as some seem to want it to be, just starting over and giving a different account, as if the Prologue and the Gylfaginning were just two distinct works in one binding. The Prologue looks forward to the Gylfaginning and the Gylfaginning picks up where the Prologue leaves off, with King Gylfi going in disguise (he is also wise in magic, and he takes the pseudonym 'Gangleri') to the stronghold of the Aesir in order to learn more about these new people. But, this is key: the Aesir, having skills far beyond even those of Gylfi, see through his disguise and figure out immediately what he is doing. They hide that fact, and use it to their advantage, conjuring up illusions. For, you see, 'Gylfaginning' means 'The Tricking of Gylfi', and it is in this context of deception that all of the essential elements of Norse mythology are unfolded. The Prose Edda doesn't merely list the elements of Norse mythology, however. The Prose Edda is the story of how the Aesir invented them. The Aesir, the Norse gods, are invented by the Aesir, the extraordinary men skilled in magic, telling lies about themselves in order to seem even more extraordinary.

Through question after question, three men, each with a name associated in poetry with Odin (they are probably just Odin himself presenting himself as three people by illusions), mock Gylfi's wisdom and depict the Aesir as the makers of heaven and earth, people of extraordinary power and wisdom. Gylfi tries to find out if they have any weaknesses, and the three men oblige, but it's always a deliberately unweak weakness. For instance, when Gylfi asks if Thor has ever been overmatched, they tell him the now-famous story of how Thor, Thjalfi, and Loki met the giant Skrymir. Skrymir is able to tie knots the gods are unable to untie; Thor in anger attempts to destroy Skrymir three times with a hammer and fail; they come to a great hall, Utgarda-Loki, and have contests, in which Loki narrowly fails to out-eat Logi (Fire), Thjalfi barely loses a race to Hugi (Thought), and finally Thor attempts to have a drinking contest with a drinking horn, supposedly one the giants can easily drain, that he barely manages to reduce the level of (we later learn that the drinking horn had one end in the sea), attempts to lift a cat and barely is able to arch its back (we later learn that the cat is actually the Midgard serpent wrapped around the world), and is brought to one knee, but only one knee, in a wrestling match with the giantess Elli (Old Age). This is all extremely transparent. You want to know Thor's weakness? He really struggled to do these completely impossible tasks, and only got farther at them than anyone else ever could. Similarly, the account given of Ragnarok does functionally the same thing. What can destroy Odin and the gods? The upending of the entire universe, which only they keep at bay. Best hope that it not come soon. But even then, the power of the Aesir will not be broken.

If we needed more evidence that this was all deliberate deception, beyond the title and the clear attempt to magnify the Aesir as gods, we find that a theme of deception arises throughout the stories. Everything consists of deceptions built on deceptions. And even when telling stories about themselves, the Aesirs present themselves as deceivers, almost as if it is one more way they are mocking Gylfi. In any case, the Gylfaginning tells us this itself. After Gylfi, amazed at what he's 'learned', goes home, the Aesir get together and start renaming places and people so that people will associate them with the stories and think the stories true. All of Norse mythology is the world's most ingenious propaganda campaign.

After the Gylfaginning, we have the Skaldskaparmal (on poetic diction) and Hattatal (on poetic meter). I am speculating a bit more here, but I think we should also recognize these as continuing the theme. We got the truth (in the Prologue), we got the imaginary fiction (in the Gylfaginning), and now we get how we can participate in the imaginary universe of the Norse gods that was made up by the supposed Norse gods themselves. This is a bit revolutionary. The Aesir are presented as having lied, but with their usual extraordinary skill they invented what we might think of as a poetic technology that now anyone with sufficient skill can use; out of their mythmaking we build the language for poetry, which we can structure into poems. Skaldskaparmal reiterates the same pattern we saw in Gylfaginning. Aegir is a man skilled in magic, like Gylfi, and he too comes to Asgard; as with Gylfi, the Aesir know Aegir's number before he even arrives, and as with Gylfi, they welcome him but with a tissue of illusions that magnify their splendor. Aegir sits next to Bragi, and Bragi tells him about skaldship, in the course of which Bragi gives stories for all sorts of famous poetic kennings and metaphors in Norse poetry. In Hattatal, Snorri gives us the patterns and structures for making poems.

My translation only gives selections from Skaldskaparmal and an example or two in an appendix of the discussion in Hattatal; I supplemented it by looking at a few others, but they do very similar things. If the above interpretation is correct, this is a very grave mistake. The Prose Edda is not four distinct works, but four parts of a single integral whole. It's easy to get lost in what the middle sections tells us about Norse myths, but they aren't presented for the sake of presenting the Norse myths. They are put forward as part of the author's attempt to teach us how to use the power poetic technology the Aesir happened to invent while trying to protect themselves and overawe their neighbors. The Prose Edda makes its readers the equals of the Norse gods.

Favorite Passage:

Gangleri then asked, 'What sort of drink do the Einherjar have that lasts them as long as the food? Or is water there?'

High replied, 'That is a strange question. Would All-Father invite kings, jarls [earls], and other men of rank to his all and give them water to drink?...' (p. 48)

Recommendation: Highly Recommended.


Snorri Sturluson, The Prose Edda, Byock, tr., Penguin Books (New York: 2005).

Resurrexit Christus!

 A Better Resurrection
by Christina Rossetti 

 I have no wit, no words, no tears;
My heart within me like a stone
Is numb'd too much for hopes or fears;
Look right, look left, I dwell alone;
I lift mine eyes, but dimm'd with grief
No everlasting hills I see;
My life is in the falling leaf:
O Jesus, quicken me. 

 My life is like a faded leaf,
My harvest dwindled to a husk:
Truly my life is void and brief
And tedious in the barren dusk;
My life is like a frozen thing,
No bud nor greenness can I see:
Yet rise it shall—the sap of Spring;
O Jesus, rise in me. 

 My life is like a broken bowl,
A broken bowl that cannot hold
One drop of water for my soul
Or cordial in the searching cold;
Cast in the fire the perish'd thing;
Melt and remould it, till it be
A royal cup for Him, my King:
O Jesus, drink of me.