Written ca. 1967; imaged on 9 April 2021; published on 10 April 2021
This prose poem hails from my college days. As I recall it was composed while I was reading the “Canterbury Tales” written in Middle English between the years 1387 and 1400 by Geoffrey Chaucer, whose work I much admired.
I recall being astounded by the words in the poem, as they came ‘out of the blue’. At time, it seemed to me as if I were that older woman described in the passage. It is as if I were standing in her body.
I did not know what to make of it. Was it really to be me, in this present incarnation, as the years rolled on? Was it someone else, someone I had been in the Middle Ages? To be frank, I was baffled.
When I came across this poem some years ago, I thought to include it in the tales of my incarnational memories noted below. You must make of it what you will.
Image: “Peasant Girl Spinning,” by Elihu Vedder, 1869, in Wikimedia Commons … https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Elihu_Vedder_-_A_Peasant_Girl_Spinning.jpg … public domain\
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A Prose Poem by Alice B. Clagett
Though now the grey subdued her raven hair
Her step was light and lithesome as a maid’s,
And yet her eyes did sparkle in her face
As do the sparrow’s, chortling in spring’s wake.
Her frame, dainty and slim, but strong withal,
Was like the reed which, troubled by the wind,
Will only bow its head and, in the calm,
Stand up the stronger, although not so tall.
Her garment was of simple brown and white.
Her voice was bright and knowing, fairy-like,
And often would she gaze into the air
In contemplation, fingertip on mouth.
It mattered naught how cold or wet the day.
In any kind of weather she would walk.
Whenever she was asked to speak her mind,
First quode she always, “Well now, let me see.”
And ever was her speech as calm and sweet
As whispering fountain on a sunlit morn.
The word ‘quode’ I take to mean ‘spake’ or ‘responded’; I believe this is a word from medieval times that might also have been in use during the European Renaissance (given the imaginative use of various spellings of words, even within one literary work, during those times … and even up until the end of the 19th Century, during the days of my grandparents here in the United States). I feel it may be kin to the words ‘quedan’ (Old High German), ‘cwethan’ (Old English), and ‘quethen’ (Middle English, past tense ‘quoth’).
Here is an instance from “A merry iest how a sergeant would learne to playe the frere, written by maister Thomas More in hys youth” …
“In dede quode he,
“It hath with me,
“Bene better than it is.”
— from Link: “The History of the English Language” … https://johnsonsdictionaryonline.com/the-history-of-the-english-language/ … The poem is public domain because it is so old.
Sir Thomas More, who was sainted, lived from 1478 to 1535, during the European Renaissance.
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Image: “Foregleam,” a poem composed and handwritten by Alice B. Clagett, ca. 1967, CC BY-SA 4.0
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Image: “In the Forest for Mushrooms,” by Sergey Vinogradov, 1927, in Wikimedia Commons … https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Sergey_Vinogradov_-_Gathering_Mushrooms_in_the_Forest.jpg … public domain
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In love, light and joy,
I Am of the Stars
See also … Link: “Tiny Anthologies: Incarnational Memories,” by Alice B. Clagett, compiled from prior blogs on 10 February 2019; revised … https://wp.me/p2Rkym-bCE ..
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–from Link: “Foregleam,” a prose poem by Alice B. Clagett, written ca. 1967; imaged on 9 April 2021; published on 10 April 2021 … https://wp.me/p2Rkym-mjK ..
Alice B. Clagett
Except where otherwise noted, “The Chalice and the Crucible” by Alice B. Clagett … https://chaliceandcrucible.com/ … is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License (CC BY-SA 4.0) … https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0/ ..