Hildegard’s Feast Day This is a Countdown . . Day 2, Care for the Earth

 

 

 

Hildegard’s Feast Day  This is a countdown  Day 2. Care for the earth

Why speak of the earth?

because we are of it,

because we are destroying it,

because we have  nowhere else.

Hildegard did not have the advantages of the 21st century, she did not  know the earth from an astronauts view as we do, she did not have the science we have today, yet she knew how precious this luminous pearl adrift in a dark ocean is.
She speaks of  oneness, unity . . .  the microcosm of the tiniest unit,  the macrocosm of the universe and how they are all one .

Here is a poem  from my new book, Hildegard of Bingen: A poetic journey in praise of the earth.

Listening

Amid the local gardener’s chatter
about plants and herbs
their culinary and medicinal uses,
and laughter of the young sisters
bubbling live with the world,
Hildegard listens.

She leans against her spade and listens.
Birds twitter
pecking at the scattered soil.
Hildegard gazes towards the hills
soft curved as a mother’s breast.
Is it the hills singing she hears?
Is it her heart surging with love?

Like a mantra she hears the words,
The earth is mother,
mother of all that is natural,
mother of all that is human.
mother of all,
for contained in her
are the seeds of all.

Hildegard looks about her.

The sisters at work, all is the same,
yet she is full of song
of trees and plants and flowers,
of herbs and ferns and stones.

Hildegard’s Feast day This is a Countdown . . . MUSIC

 

 

Hildegard’s Feast Day  This is a countdown  Day 3.

Three days until Hildegard’s Feast Day – 17th September.

In  this poem from my new book Hildegard of Bingen: A  poetic journey,  we see how important MUSIC and SINGING is to  HILDEGARD  and to the  LIFE OF HER ABBEY.  

 

 

 

Hildegard is is now the Magistra (meaning teacher.)   Jutta has died and Hildegard holds her sisters together.  She leads them  away from  the old monastery to begin the creation of their own Abbey. (the new Abbey in Bingen)

To lift their spirits  she composes music that carries them on the breath  heavenwards.  The year is 1151 at their new Abbey on the Rhine River.

Unearthing Heaven

Seamless fold of seasons.
Not so seamless, their daily struggle..
Life is still comfortless
harsh, rough.

Music carries them.
Singing gladdens them.

Hildegard is invigorated
by harmonies of sound
sees music in the dawn
light on the hills
in the caress of the wind
shape of the clouds
sound of the entwining rivers
the patter of rain
chatter of verdant tendrils of vine.

Music moves in her mind
fills her writing
defines her day.
She sings with her sisters.
Her sisters sing with her.

Singing softens their tired
discouraged hearts
like blossoms soften stone walls. 

In giving voice to her poetry
Hildegard bursts into song.  
Words of Divine Light, 
sounds from the heavenly spheres
echo in her,

O fleeting soul, be strong. 
Clothe yourself in the armour of light.
You are surrounded 
with the embrace of Divine mysteries.

She sees creation, a symphony of joy and jubilation,
a great chorus of the cosmos itself.

In the garden with her sisters
she draws lines with a stick on the earth
dots out the shift of sounds,
with the stick as baton and pointer
she teaches them her new music.
Their eyes shine.
Her antiphons and canticles
enrich the Divine Office.
Richardis leads, her voice ethereal,
the sisters join, words and rhythms soar,
breathless notes, higher and ever higher.

Their unfinished church
embraces their song,
a new heaven and new earth.

 

 

Photos of music scores fro around Hildegards time to show the beautiful calligralhy  and the second photo is of the author in the vicinity of where Hildegard is supposed to have lived in the anchorage at the Disibodenberg Monastery from 1112 – 1150

Hildegard’s Feast Day This is a Countdown . . . .

Hildegard’s Feast Day  This is a Countdown  Day 4

Four days until Hildegard’s feast day  – 17th September

In this poem from my new book Hildegard of Bingen: A poetic journey

Hildegard is now a young woman. You may wonder how she, from a restricted beginning, could grow in learning and knowledge to became such a great influence on Western World music, medicine, ecology and environment.

 The young man is the monk Volmar. He is one of the few literate  monks and a Latin scholar. He is the scribe for the monastery.  It is 1120.

 

Getting of Knowledge 

Seasons fall one upon another.
Hildegard tends their courtyard,
a patchwork of green colour.

Pilgrims throng to Disibodenberg,
seek Jutta for blessing.
Jutta sits at her window                                                          
to the world.
Hildegard observes Jutta’s gifts
of healing and prophecy,
aware of the pilgrims, their fears,
their sense of longing.

After Divine Office
the monk Volmar taps the window,
gives them a vellum-bound manuscript.
He speaks softly,
This is my new work.

In dim afternoon light
Hildegard and Jutta sit together,
marvel at illustrated works
he has copied into German,
of the vegetation found sheltered
in woodlands and meadows,
herbs, ferns, moss and lichen

They pour over each page.
Illustrations shimmer
under Hildegard’s enquiring gaze.
They smell the hide, minerals,
ink’s oak oil, plant dye.
Hildegard’s hunger quickens.
Her hunger for the getting of knowledge.

 

 

 

PS The writing pictures are of mediaeval time but not Hildegard’s actual writing.

Hildegard’s Feast Day This is a Countdown . . . . .

This is a Countdown.

Five days until Hildegard’s feast day  – 17th September.

In this poem from my new book Hildegard of Bingen: A poetic journey,

Hildegard is a girl developing into a young woman.

In the intimacy of the anchorage Hildegard’s world of the early 12th century seems closed off.

Yet during the 20 years as a walled-in anchorite, Hildegard is preparing for the greatness of her expanding future as one of the worlds first composers, writers, environmentalists and healers.

Her voice speaks to us down the centuries.  Today, 840 years later, we are reminded to be wide eyed and curious, about our planet, other species and our fellow human beings.

Take your mind back over 900 years, Jutta, her Benedictine sister and Hildegard are living and learning in the anchorage attached to a monastery with around 60 Benedictine monks in a life of prayer, work and study.  It is about 1116 AD.

Wide Eyed and Curious

Under Jutta’s tutelage,
Hildegard writes out prayers.
Wide eyed and curious
she absorbs the Divine Office.
With the tablet and stylus                                        
Latin comes alive.

The ten strings of the psaltery
zither the air
as she sings the psalms.
She and Jutta stitch gifted fine silk
for altar cloths and vestments.

Stone walls, monastic chant
by osmosis, her world of music.
Sometimes her mind drifts back to home,
smell of the Bermersheim forest
and meadows in spring.
How she loved running wildly
that last summer
in the woods with her brother Roerich.

In moments of loneliness
she gazes inwards.
Was she a tithe to God
the last of ten children?
Or despite her mother’s warning
was she betrayed
by her secret?

Photos:

1. At top: Taken in March 2017  in our stay place. At work on the writing of Hildegard.

2. Spring just peeping through on the further bank of the Rhine River in Bingen.

3.This photo shows  late Spring the grapes greening up on the far bank of the  Rhine

Book review by Abbess Christine Valters Paintner. Hildegard of Bingen: A Poetic Journey

Affirming words from the Abbess Christine Valters Paintner   PhD

who lead the enriching 3 weeks Pilgrimage

of walking in Hildegard of Bingen’s footsteps in the Benedictine Way

which I was a part of with 30 other pilgrims in Autumn 2013

Christine’s latest book  Dreaming of Stones is a very reflective selection of poetry

 

“Hildegard of Bingen was a woman of extraordinary creative expression and this book approaches her wisdom through the gift of poetry which allows us to move into a more intuitive space. It is a book to slow us down, that invites us to ponder, and calls us to follow Hildegard toward a growing greenness in our lives.”

—Christine Valters Paintner, PhD, author of 12 books on spirituality including Illuminating the Way: Embracing the Wisdom of Monks and Mystics

Blessings on your project!

Warmly, Christine

Christine Valters Paintner, PhD, REACE

Abbey of the Arts:

Transformative Living through 

Contemplative and Expressive Arts

 

Hildegard of Bingen: Poetic Journey available now

Ginninderra  Press

www.ginninderrapress.com.au

Internationally on AMAZON BOOKS

Colleen Keating / Hildegard of Bingen: 

A poetic journey

Poetry

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‘Hildegard of Bingen was a woman of extraordinary creative expression and this book approaches her wisdom through the gift of poetry which allows us to move into a more intuitive space. It is a book to slow us down, that invites us to ponder, and calls us to follow Hildegard towards a growing greenness in our lives.’ – Christine Valters Paintner, PhD, REACE, Abbey of the Arts

‘Hildegard’s life sings and dances across the pages of this engaging harmony of her works, set out in this poetic journey that commences at the twilight of her life and rewinds back through the lens of time. Hildegard’s many gifts – including her charm – are expertly embedded. A very enjoyable and fascinating read.’ – Dr Christine Cameron 

‘Colleen Keating brings to this impressive collection some very fine, positively Hildegardian qualities – a robust earthiness, an inner strength, a passion for justice and a fiery light.’ –
Dr Mary O’Connell

‘What an oeuvre! What a superb and elaborate work! These nine books of poems by Australian poet Colleen Keating tell Hildegard’s story in a stunning way. The reader feels put into the landscape and ambience of Hildegard’s medieval cloistered world. Thus I highly recommend reading, tasting and meditating on this poetic journey with Hildegard of Bingen.’ –
Dr Annette Esser, Founder and President of the Scivias Institute for Art and Spirituality, Germany.

978 1 76041 766 6, 248pp

Versions

On Wings of dawn

On Wing of Dawn

Thirst drove me down to the water
where I drank the moon’s reflection
Rumi

Tuggerah lake spreads open
the flounce of a bridesmaid skirt
amongst the pink tulle of cloud
a singular pelican
disturbs the moon bobbing along
its reflection in perfect balance
a narcissus moment
especially when it goes down for a fish

a silken sheen
wide expanses of blue
with dark patches –
sway of grasses
from which a snake long neck
of black cormorant
rhythmically dives

what we find: time plays waggery
in the still quite
of a dawn-lake our mind
is seduced to giddiness
like the caprice of a merry -go-round
with its jangle of lights and robotic tune

what we find: frivolity at the edge
as the day works itself
into a frenzy time is not kind
the lake becomes all fire
the plovers on the jetty protest
whip-smart at our approach

what is at stake: when the world
shatters into a million shards of glass
the shimmer on the lake
for our grandchildren
the beauty of the flocks of gulls
going south to feed
how they share the wind
in their formation

the death knell rings out
past the horizon
where the hills are softened
in the curl and swirl of mist
time thrusts its body
a superficial rush
but it cannot catch the present
that hums like a Tibetan bell
long after it stops ringing

we are always putting ourselves
together again
in a broken world
like humpty dumpty
who sat on the wall
after the fall
we have to pick up the pieces and go on
this is the journey
knowing only death is paralysis
and as Frost tells us
we have miles to go
before we sleep

Earth Day. A Celebration – Saving the Jacaranda- copy

To celebrate Earth Day I choose to reprint a poem  I love from my  first poetry collection,  A Call to Listen.   It is  a true story of a group of workers in our local council.  A model to save trees wherever you can for the life they support, for the beauty they give, for the fresh air they make, and for their healing presence in our lives.

Thank you Mary Reynolds Thompson for your inspiring email  . . . a reminder for me to act today.

It was on an autumn walk I learnt the old Jacaranda tree that I loved was under threat. It was in the way of new pipes. The pipes about 2 metres in diameter were being dug in and the gorgeous old Jacaranda was in the pathway. The next day there was an arborist directing the men down amongst the roots gently digging out the soil. The pipe was placed in underneath the roots. Then in November, 6 months on there it was, in full glory . . thanks to those who had worked to save it.

jacaranda_tree

saving the jacaranda

the line for the new concrete
drainage pipe
runs under the massive old jacaranda

meticulous to protect its roots
day after day the council men
ratty and mole in fluorescent yellow
dig a man-made warren
wide and deep

exposed roots
stretch and coil like dark bearded monsters
from a tenebrous underworld
smelling earthy airless damp

then overseen by an arborist
a crane lowers the pipe into place
and this private world is reclaimed

a year on
standing before its gnarled trunk
on a lilac path
i am corralled in its aura
of blossom-laden branches
and i rejoice with the breeze
in whispered mantras

And thank you to my daughter Elizabeth  Keating-Jones sending me Neil Gaiman’s poem in honour of  the Scientist and researcher, Rachel Carson (1907- 1964 )  who is the inspiration for Earth Day after  the new enlightment the world was given with her book Silent Spring  (1962)