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MEDIEVAL LITERATURE: DEFINED
Medieval literature is a broad subject, encompassing essentially all written works available in Europe and beyond during the Middle Ages (encompassing the one thousand years from the fall of the Western Roman Empire ca. AD 500 to the beginning of the Florentine Renaissance in the late 15th century). The literature of this time was composed of religious writings as well as secular works. Just as in modern literature, it is a complex and rich field of study, from the utterly sacred to the exuberantly profane, touching all points in-between. Because of the wide range of time and place it is difficult to speak in general terms without oversimplification, and thus the literature is best characterized by its place of origin and/or language, as well as its genre.
MEDIEVAL LITERATURE: DESCRIBED
Go to this link for details on the following aspects of medieval literature:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Medieval_literature
3 Types of writing
3.3 Women's literature
4 Notable literature of the period
5 Specific articles
5.1 By region or language
5.2 By genre
5.3 By period
THE LANGUAGES OF MEDIEVAL LITERATURE
Since Latin was the language of the Roman Catholic Church, which dominated Western and Central Europe, and since the Church was virtually the only source of education, Latin was a common language for Medieval writings, even in some parts of Europe that were never Romanized. However, in Eastern Europe, the influence of the Eastern Roman Empire and the Eastern Orthodox Church made Greek and Old Church Slavonic the dominant written languages.
The common people continued to use their respective vernaculars. A few examples, such as the Old English Beowulf, the Middle High German Nibelungenlied, the Medieval Greek Digenis Acritas, the Old East Slavic Tale of Igor's Campaign, and the Old French Chanson de Roland, are well known to this day. Although the extant versions of these epics are generally considered the works of individual (but anonymous) poets, there is no doubt that they are based on their peoples' older oral traditions. Celtic traditions have survived in the lais of Marie de France, the Mabinogion and the Arthurian cycles.
ANONYMITY OF MEDIEVAL LITERATURE
A notable amount of medieval literature is anonymous. This is not only due to the lack of documents from a period, but also due to an interpretation of the author's role that differs considerably from the romantic interpretation of the term in use today. Medieval authors often deeply respected the classical writers and the Church Fathers and tended to re-tell and embellish stories they had heard or read rather than invent new stories. And even when they did, they often claimed to be handing down something from an auctor instead. From this point of view, the names of the individual authors seemed much less important, and therefore many important works were never attributed to any specific person.
Dante....an influence from The Middle Ages......
Not a 'modern' poet but a model for moderns in some ways. He saw himself as a poet of "justice." Justice can only be attained, he argued, through the means which God in His providence has placed at man's disposal. This is the true subject of the Divine Comedy. Of course, the Baha'i has at his disposal the nucleus and pattern of a future World Order in the present day Baha'i Administration. He has the Book and the Interpreter of the Book as the central underpinning of this System, this 'means which God has placed at (his) disposal.'
Dante had at his disposal a comprehensive and intellectually consistent image of the cosmos and its relationship to God.-Harold L. Weatherby, The Keen Delight: The Christian Poet in the Modern World, University of Georgia Press, Athens, 1975, p.5. In an age profoundly infected with philosophical scepticism the problem of writing sacred poetry, the great song, requires that we recapture a genuine science of invisible things. This can be done through a grasp by the poet of both the external and internal worlds. The poet conveys his creative intuition into a receptive intuition. -ibid. pp.123-149.
The poet, who is a member of the Baha’i community, has before him every atom in existence and the essence of all created things1. There is no break between nature, art, poetry, science, religion and personal life. It is all one, a dynamic unity amidst multiplicity, amidst an organic body of ideas. On the basis of a vast corpus of sacred Writings this same poet has before him a massive body of religious literature. Its frameworks of systematic theology, philosophy, epistomology, ontology, aesthetics, theophanology, history and psychology are, for the most part, in their early stages of development. But the foundation is there for a rich and fertile global literature to evolve within a fusion of opposites, on some ladder of reflection and, inevitably, amidst a complex cross-fertilisation. -Ron Price, The Emergence of a Baha’i Consciousness in World Literature, Unpublished Manuscript, 1996.
You get enough principles here
to build a cosmos in your brain,
to wander with Dante
through his world of keen delight,
to rebuild his model,
a reconstructed universe.
This is far more than mere living,
of simply amusing yourself
like some restless dilettante spectator
on the lounge room couch;
this is appreciation, deep and full,
far beyond a momentary touch of sorrow;
this is some vortex spinning with ideas,
driving its readers into their own memory,
back into a reverie, past depths
and the vagueness of past-times
into a oneness
that is slowly sweeping the face of the earth,
a search that is self-expression.
This universe, this cosmos, this self,
its likes and dislikes, comings and goings,
faults and weaknesses
are one entity,
even in its contradictions:
the oneness of a microcosm
in its egotism and limitations,
walking backwards or forewords,
in some new Rome at the crossroads,
in some solitude and aloneness
which is necessary and unavoidable,
bringing the past and the future into now,
with delicate scents, pulsations,
unnameable tactile sensations,
with an anxiety surrounding
my moments of tranquillity
but with light as the basis of structure
and darkness always at the periphery,
on an inner lifeline of such complexity,
such a seismographic record and sensibility,
such a breadth of compass
within the distilled sphere of these words
and their fusion of opposites.
18 August 1996
1Baha’u’llah, Hidden Words.
DANTE’S CANTO 1: REVISITED
Dante’s The Divine Comedy has inspired many writers over the centuries. I have, here, in this poem, done a rewriting, a revision, a reworking of Dante's Canto 1, drawing on my own experience and thought -Ron Price, Pioneering Over Three Epochs, 27 December 1998.
Midway upon this journey of my life
I find myself within a forest dark,
although the straight path is not lost.
Good grief! How complex to describe
this forest’s savage, stern and sacred way
wherein my fear lies, embers burning.
A bitter taste is here, far more than death,
a kind of poison along with honied tongue.
They walk with me along my days and times.
I must say, though, now I am at mountain’s foot,
a tapestry of beauty appears above
and pierces my heart with joy,
consecrating all these devoted years.
It is as if my heart will break.
For what is here will lead others right by every road,
quieten distressful breath and fear of every load.
My weary body I will rest here
while the sun mounts up and to the stars.
If any place were one of Divine Love
it is here where I can cry and sense redemption.
Life’s long silence, part of source
and cause of every joy, can take my heart,
can finally meet its Maker.
He is here, my Master and my Author,
Alone the One from Whom I took the Book.
Such beauteous style that has done honour to me.
I followed You and now You are my guide.
You will lead me slowly to my eternal home.
You will lead me through my lamentations.
You will lead me through my second death.
Here in this city and this lofty throne.
Happy he whom thereto He elects!
Greatest Poet I entreat Thee
by that same God Whom Thou didst know.
Conduct me down the road
that I may see the portal
far beyond these disconsolate gates
27 December 1998