Roots of Western Mysticism

Week 5

READING: RESERVE: Mechthild of Magdeburg; NET Bernard of Clairvaux,On Loving God (excerpts)

Video: "The Fires of Faith: Dissidents and the Church" Part three of The Medieval Mind. CB 351.M415 pt. 3

Medieval Love Mysticism

John Dowland, "Say Love If Ever Thou Didst Find"

Say love, if ever thou didst find?

John Dowland, 3rd Booke of Ayres, 1603

Say, Love, if ever thou didst find
A woman with a constant mind?
None but one.
And what should that rare mirror be?
Some goddess or some queen is she;
She, she, she, and only she,
She only queen of love and beauty.

But could thy fiery poison'd dart
At no time touch her spotless heart,
Nor come near?
She is not subject to Love's bow;
Her eye commands, her heart saith no,
No, no, and only no;
One no another still doth follow.

How might I that fair wonder know,
That mocks desire with endless no
See the moon
That ever in one change doth grow
Yet still the same, and she is so
So, so, so and only so,
From heav'n her virtues she doth borrow

To her then yield thy shafts and bow,
That can command affections so:
Love is free;
So are her thoughts that vanquish thee.
There is no queen of love but she,
She, she, she, and only she,
She only queen of love and beauty.

John Dowland "Come Again"

Come Again

John Dowland, 2nd Booke of Ayres, 1600

Come again, sweet love doth now invite
Thy graces that refrain
To do me due delight,
To see, to hear, to touch, to kiss, to die
With thee again in sweetest sympathy.

Come again, that I may cease to mourn
Through thy unkind disdain;
For now left and forlorn
I sit, I sigh, I weep, I faint, I die
In deadly pain and endless misery.

Gentle Love, draw forth thy wounding dart,
Thou canst not pierce her heart;
For I, that to approve
By sighs and tears more hot than are thy shafts
Did tempt, while she for triumph laughs.

Hassler - Herzlieb zu dir allein

Herzlieb zu dir allein

Hans Leo Hassler, 1564-1612

Herzlieb zu dir allein
Steht Tag und Nacht mein Sinn.
Dein rotes mundelein
Nimmt mir aus Trauren hin.

Dir hab' ich mich ergeben
dein eigen will ich sein.
Mit dir in Freud zu Leben
Bis an das Ende mein.
My love, you alone are on my mind
Night and day.
Your red lips
Take me out of my sadness.

I have given myself to you
I want to be yours
To live with you in joy
Until my end.



Heloise and Abelard

"Abaelardus and Heloïse surprised by Master Fulbert"

by Romanticist painter Jean Vignaud (1819)

Abaelardus and Heloïse in a manuscript of the Roman de la Rose (14th century)

Bernard of Clairvaux

Mechthild of Magdeburg

Beguinage of Bruges

Saint Gertrude the Great


Similar to the Beguines