The Lion Awakens

We touched yesterday on the whole Tommy Robinson thing, and there is more to say, best said from America, although many of my British readers will, I think, quietly agree.

You may have heard, and I referred to, the demonstrations Whitehall, just outside the fenced off Downing Street, itself a reminder of the problems that Muslim immigration has brought. The British are possibly the most polite amongst us (except of course at football matches) ūüôā But they have their limits.

Joshuapundit writing on Watcher of Weasels has more and some videos.

Tens of thousands of Brits attended a demonstration in London to free Tommy Robinson yesterday and it was not your typical demonstration. These people were energized and angry. Here’s is Dutch politician Geert Wilders, who addressed the crowd:

Here‚Äôs what the crowd looked like outside Number 10 Downing Street, the Prime Minister‚Äôs residence. The ‚ÄėTommy Tommy‚Äô chant will be familiar to those familiar with Brit football chants:

When the London Police tried to suppress things, the crowd actually attacked them and a number of the police simply ran from the crowd.

Now, we’ve seen the British police run from Muslim mobs before. But this is the first time they’ve ever had to run from the British people. And high time too. They’re going to have to decide whose side they’re on.

The cops finally regrouped to block the demonstrators as they approached Buckingham Palace while the royal family was present inside.

British media is covering this as ‚Äėa small demonstration of far right groups‚Äô if they‚Äôre covering it at all. You take a look at these videos and tell me this was a small demonstration!

Emphasis mine.

Which is, of course, Fake News, the BBC, in particular, is every bit as adept at it as their buddies at CNN. But the truth stands on its own. Here are the videos:

 

And

 

Joshuapundit makes another point as well.

This whole scenario was so obviously reminiscent of the way Stalin used to handle this sort of thing that even a number of people on the Left who are not Tommy Robinson fans in the least are upset by it.

My original thought was that Robinson’s fate was a warning to others that you too can disappear and the papers won’t even write about it. They wanted to make an example out of him. They were probably going to wait a few months for the furor to die down and then have Tommy Robinson conveniently murdered in prison.

That plan seems to have failed miserably. Instead, they have made Tommy Robinson far more popular and a symbol of how the UK  is no longer a free country. If they keep him locked up or if they free him, he will remain a popular hero. And I don’t doubt they realize that murdering him in prison would make him a martyr as well.

Much as I hate to say it, I agree with him. This was an attempt to ‘disappear Tommy Robinson’. But thanks to the internet and some intrepid Britons not only are demonstrations happening in Whitehall but in San Francisco, in Sydney, in fact, wherever free men gather.

I think the elite in Britain have gotten so far from their roots, that they have forgotten the ancient wisdom of the people, who led us all to freedom. Rudyard Kipling put it best.

It was not part of their blood,
It came to them very late,
With long arrears to make good,
When the Saxon began to hate.

They were not easily moved,
They were icy ‚ÄĒ willing to wait
Till every count should be proved,
Ere the Saxon began to hate.

Their voices were even and low.
Their eyes were level and straight.
There was neither sign nor show
When the Saxon began to hate.

It was not preached to the crowd.
It was not taught by the state.
No man spoke it aloud
When the Saxon began to hate.

It was not suddently bred.
It will not swiftly abate.
Through the chilled years ahead,
When Time shall count from the date
That the Saxon began to hate.

#Free Tommy

ps: Yes, the summit. I haven’t enough information yet to have a valid opinion, maybe tomorrow.

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VE Day and Appeasement

Yesterday was the 73d anniversary¬†of VE Day – the day when Nazi Germany surrendered¬†to the most¬†powerful alliance ever assembled, Great Britain and its Empire, the Soviet Union, and the United States, and a fair number of smaller powers, and governments in exile. It is a great day in the history of freedom, and it’s a shame that we don’t celebrate it more.

But maybe the reason we don’t is that it was a rather unnecessary war, if we had kept the watch in the 20s and 30s, it need never have happened. Imagine a world without any of the horrors¬†of that period, it could easily have been, if, for example, the west had shut Hitler¬†down when he reoccupied the Rhineland in 1936. But we didn’t, and it happened.

In 1938 the British Prime Minister journeyed to Munich and returned with a piece of paper, that sold out Czechoslovakia, which has come to be called appeasement. Somewhat unfairly, in my opinion. Mr. Chamberlain was as patriotic as any Briton could want, but his military cupboard was pretty bare, if he had gone to war over the Sudetenland, it is very likely that he would have lost, and left Britain occupied as well. That would have precluded the Allies winning the war, no matter what the New World, in all its power and might, might do.

The next year was different, a new Prime Minister, one of the greatest war leaders of the English speaking peoples was in charge, and the guarantee was given to Poland. And so, once again, as so often, Tommy Atkins paid in blood for his leaders lack of preparation.

But that war ended on May 8th, 1945, and the lesson was learned, and the Soviet Empire was in time destroyed, without destroying the world. But history did not end, as some claimed. It is well to remember what Churchill wrote about Nazi rule for Collier’s magazine in 1937…

To relax their grip may be at the same time to release avenging forces. Dictators and those who immediately sustain them cannot quit their offices with the easy disdain‚ÄĒor more often relief‚ÄĒwith which an American President of a British Prime Minister submits himself to an adverse popular verdict. For a dictator the choice may well be between the throne or the grave. The character of these men who have raised themselves from obscurity to these positions of fierce, dazzling authority does not permit us to believe that they would bow their heads meekly to the stroke of fate. One has the feeling they would go down or conquer fighting, and play the fearful stakes which are in their hands. . .

Thus we are confronted with a situation in Europe abhorrent to its peoples, including the great mass of German and Italian peoples, in which bands of competent, determined men under ruthless leadership find themselves unable to go or to stop. It may well be that the choice before Germany is a choice between an internal and an external explosion. But it is not Germany that will really choose. It is only that band of politicians who have obtained this enormous power, whose movements are guided by two or three men, who will decide the supreme issue of peace or war. To this horrible decision they cannot come unbiased. Economic and political ruin may stare them in the face, and the only means they have to escape may be victory in the field. They have the power to make war. They have the incentive to make war; nay, it may well be almost compulsion.

Very wise words indeed, and have application beyond Nazi Germany.

Yesterday, the President ended the so-called agreement with Iran. It was an agreement that never should have been made, as President Obama was told by a huge proportion of Congress, which is why it was an agreement and not a treaty, the Senate would have decisively defeated it. In addition, there is a summit coming up with North Korea. Both of these countries are in the exact situation that Sir Winston describes above.

There are reports of additional air force units of British, French, and American origin moving into position around Syria. They may well be needed.

For Iran, like North Korea is a failed state, who has denied its people butter to buy guns, and is attempting to expand¬†militarily. It is fairly obvious that such is a very bad idea, for us all, and especially for our ally Israel. Then there is the risk of nuclear weapons in the hands of a rogue state. This was, of course, the original impetus of the Manhatten Project, to beat Hitler’s henchmen to the bomb. And so once again, the valley is darkened by the shadow of death, and there are rumors of war, and there could well be war.

But once again, the west has made their bed, and will have to pay the price, or lose. It is ancient wisdom amongst our people, and few put it better than Rudyard Kipling did,

It is always a temptation to an armed and agile nation
  To call upon a neighbour and to say: --
"We invaded you last night--we are quite prepared to fight,
  Unless you pay us cash to go away."

And that is called asking for Dane-geld,
  And the people who ask it explain
That you've only to pay 'em the Dane-geld
  And then  you'll get rid of the Dane!

It is always a temptation for a rich and lazy nation,
  To puff and look important and to say: --
"Though we know we should defeat you, we have not the time to meet you.
  We will therefore pay you cash to go away."

And that is called paying the Dane-geld;
  But we've  proved it again and  again,
That if once you have paid him the Dane-geld
  You never get rid of the Dane.

It is wrong to put temptation in the path of any nation,
  For fear they should succumb and go astray;
So when you are requested to pay up or be molested,
  You will find it better policy to say: --

"We never pay any-one Dane-geld,
  No matter how trifling the cost;
For the end of that game is oppression and shame,
  And the nation that pays it is lost!"

Back Into the Wasteland, Again

The Hollow Men 5

Yesterday was about as depressing as a post consisting of videos could possibly be. Sometimes to me, and to Britons who remember a Britain that was much better, as many of us do with America, it is heartbreaking. But as we all know, facts don’t care about our feelings. We must carry on, and do the right things in the right way. This article of Jess’ touches on the theme.

If you found yesterday’s videos as bad as I did,¬†chronicling the decline of the civilization that built the modern world, well, it speaks to that. Here’s Jessica –


 

Into the Wasteland

We are the hollow men
We are the stuffed men
Leaning together
Headpiece filled with straw. Alas!
Our dried voices, when
We whisper together
Are quiet and meaningless
As wind in dry grass
Or rats’ feet over broken glass
In our dry cellar

The opening lines of T.S. Eliot’s 1925 poem speak with eloquence to any age and people who feel disconnected from what they feel is a calamitous and collapsing socio-political world.

Eliot was writing in the aftermath of the most catastrophic war in the history of the Western world. It was the war when hope died. How could one believe in progress after the Somme and the horrors of the Western Front? And what had all of that slaughter been for? A settlement at Versailles which few believed would really bring peace to the world.  Men like Wilson and Hoover, or MacDonald and Baldwin, seemed small men facing giant problems, and sure enough, within fifteen years the world had once more descended into the abyss.

Does the fault lie in our leaders? They do, indeed, seem to be hollow men, with heads stuffed with straw. The words of Yeats’¬†Second Coming seem apposite to our times:

Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
    Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
    The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
    The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
    The best lack all conviction, while the worst
    Are full of passionate intensity.

Writing in 1919, Yeats wondered:   

Surely some revelation is at hand;
Surely the Second Coming is at hand

But it was not so. In¬†Lord of the Rings, Frodo tells Gandalf that he wishes he did not live in the time he did, when such dreadful things were happening. Gandalf’s reply is for all of us:
‘So do I,¬† said Gandalf, and so do all who live to see such times. But that is not for them to decide.¬†All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.’

It is not for us to decide such things. All each of us can do in the end is to decide how we live our lives and by what star we steer. Those of us with a Christian faith, like Tolkien himself, know we are strangers in this world, and we know by whose star we steer. We can rage all we like against the way the world seems to be going, so did our forefathers, and so will our descendants. Eliot ends with a dying fall:

This is the way the world ends

This is the way the world ends

This is the way the world ends

Not with a bang but a whimper.

But Yeats, in best prophetic mode wondered:

And what rough beast, its hour come round at last,
    Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?

For me, Eliot’s words in¬†Ash Wednesday ring truest:

Because I cannot hope to turn again
Consequently, I rejoice, having to construct something
Upon which to rejoice

And pray to God to have mercy upon us
And pray that I may forget
These matters that with myself I too much discuss
Too much explain
Because I do not hope to turn again
Let these words answer
For what is done, not to be done again
May the judgement not be too heavy upon us


That’s pretty much what the world feels like, increasingly to me, at least, it seems that we may have to simply burn it down and try to rebuild in the ruins. But I continue to hope not, so we will see. And there is hope.

In the United States for all the cacophony from the left and the media (yes, I repeat myself) we seem to have at least arrested the regression and in some ways are returning to our self-imposed mission to keep the torch of liberty lighted. Where we lead, others may well follow. If you remember, when Cassandra opened her box of troubles, the one thing left in that accurséd box was hope.

In many ways, Kipling in ‘A Dead Statesman’, written around the end of World War I, asked the question I think our political leadership should have to answer

I could not dig; I dared not rob:
Therefore I lied to please the mob.
Now all my lies are proved untrue
And I must face the men I slew.
What tale shall serve me here among
Mine angry and defrauded young?

But he also wrote the inscription for the war dead of Sault St. Marie, Ontario, Canada, which ends:

From little towns in a far land, we came
To save our honour, and a world aflame;
By little towns in a far land, we sleep
And trust those things we won, to you to keep.

Dare we break that trust? If we, the Anglo-Saxons, don’t do it, it will not be done.

As Jess said above, we don’t get to pick the era in which we live, we are simply called to do the best we can. And so we shall, God willing. ¬†Neo

 

The Hollow Men

This rather follows on from yesterday, something else that is starting to happen. From Jeffrey Lord at The American Spectator.

Ya can’t make it up.

Here’s the headline in the Washington Post from the Post’s Erik Wemple.

Staffers at The Hill press management about the work of John Solomon

The story reads, in part:

A group of newsroom staffers at The Hill have complained to management about stories written by John Solomon, the publication‚Äôs executive vice president of digital video. The complaints were launched in December when Solomon and reporter Alison Spann broke a story under this headline: ‚ÄúExclusive: Prominent lawyer sought donor cash for two Trump accusers.‚ÄĚ […]

The story impressed the conservative media world. Fox News host Sean Hannity called it a ‚Äúbombshell report,‚ÄĚ while conservativewebsites aggregated away.‚ÄĚ

And then there was this, also from the Post’s Wemple on Solomon. The headline:

Sources: The Hill’s John Solomon offered money to Bill Clinton for an interview series

In which the Post’s Wemple attacks Solomon for pitching David Frost-Nixon style interviews with the former President in which Clinton, like Nixon before him, would get paid for his historical reflections.

Hmmmm. Two attacks on John Solomon in the¬†Washington Post? Why might this suddenly be? […]

Sean Hannity has been relentless in doing what the mainstream media has refused to do ‚ÄĒ pursue the clearly very real story of Washington Insiders (aka ‚Äúthe Deep State‚ÄĚ) ‚ÄĒ going out of their way to manipulate the FBI and the Justice Department to save Hillary Clinton‚Äôs electoral bacon and fry Donald Trump‚Äôs. The¬†New York Times¬†even did a feature story several weeks ago in its Sunday magazine titled ‚ÄúHow Far Will Sean Hannity Go?‚ÄĚ In which the¬†Times¬†worried that Hannity was a Trump media supporter with ‚ÄĒ oh nooooooo! ‚ÄĒ a real audience! (Thirteen million gasped the¬†Times.)

I’m no Sean Hannity fan, but he has been outstanding in this matter.

Now comes this from Sara Carter’s site:

Bombshell Intelligence Report Exposing FISA Abuse

Extensive abuse uncovered that could lead to the removal of senior government officials

The very first paragraph of Carter’s story says this:

A review of a classified document outlining what is described as extensive Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act abuse was made available to all House members Thursday and the revelations could lead to the removal of senior officials in the FBI and Department of Justice, several sources with knowledge of the document stated. These sources say the report is ‚Äúexplosive,‚ÄĚ stating they would not be surprised if it leads to the end of Robert Mueller‚Äôs Special Counsel investigation into President Trump and his associates. […]

These attacks on Solomon, Carter, and Hannity reek of Washington Establishment panic that in fact as Hannity and others have said what is being uncovered here is indeed ‚Äúworse than Watergate.‚ÄĚ As the noose tightens ‚ÄĒ the journalists are attacked? As¬†Saturday NightLive‚Äôs Dana Carvey would exclaim in his role as the ‚ÄúChurch Lady‚ÄĚ ‚ÄĒ ‚Äúhow connnnnveeeenient!‚ÄĚ

Right this minute the Establishment media is awash in worship for the Steven Spielberg/Tom Hanks/Meryl Streep loving profile of the¬†Washington Post¬†titled, well,¬†The Post. Which is the story of the¬†Post¬†versus the Nixon Administration over the publication of the Pentagon Papers. But do recall an earlier loving Hollywood treatment of the¬†Post ‚ÄĒ¬†Robert Redford‚Äôs¬†All the President‚Äôs Men,¬†the movie version of Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein‚Äôs bestseller about their unraveling of the Watergate scandal. In which the two revealed that in an attempt to threaten the¬†Postand its publisher, Katharine Graham, Nixon Attorney General John Mitchell snarled in a phone call that if the¬†Post¬†did not back off of its aggressive Watergate reporting there would be trouble. As Bernstein, on the phone, tried to confirm with Mitchell an explosive story the¬†Post¬†was about to publish, the conversation went this way, as captured in the movie and reported by Graham herself in her memoirs as follows:

Mitchell exploded with an exclamation of ‚ÄúJEEEEEEESUS,‚ÄĚ so violent that Carl felt it was ‚Äúsome sort of primal scream‚ÄĚ and thought Mitchell might die on the telephone. After he‚Äôd read him the first two paragraphs, Mitchell interrupted, still screaming, ‚ÄúAll that crap, you‚Äôre putting it in the paper? It‚Äôs all been denied. Katie Graham‚Ķ is gonna get her tit caught in a big fat wringer if that‚Äôs published.‚ÄĚ

Amazingly, the situation is now reversed. It is the Washington Establishment under the gun, and the sudden flurry of anti-John Solomon stories from the Post is today’s version of the Establishment saying to Solomon that his, um, tit will be caught in a big fat wringer if he and Sara Carter and Hannity and others keep digging.

My, how times have changed. The Washington Post becomes John Mitchell.

If you are old enough to remember Watergate, what turned a “third-rate burglary”, into an event that shook the foundations of the Republic, costing a sitting president his job, and his legacy, was the cover-up. Many learned that lesson, but the establishment was not amongst them.

And so history repeats because the lesson was not learned. But this time, instead of a comic opera, amateur, burglary¬†in support of a sure thing, we have a (likely) criminal conspiracy to overthrow the duly elected President of the United States. This is worse than what got Aaron Burr tried for. So they’re probably right to panic, but they should have thought of that, after all, it was a Washington insider who taught me that two people can keep a secret if one is dead.

And that made me think of Eliot’s Wasteland, and how perhaps 1925 when he wrote it was somewhat analogous to our times.

We are the hollow men
We are the stuffed men
Leaning together
Headpiece filled with straw. Alas!
Our dried voices, when
We whisper together
Are quiet and meaningless
As wind in dry grass
Or rats’ feet over broken glass
In our dry cell

Sounds like our establishment doesn’t it? The trouble is that it leads¬†us to what Yeats foresaw in The Second Coming.

Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
    Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
    The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
    The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
    The best lack all conviction, while the worst
    Are full of passionate intensity.

Writing in 1919, Yeats wondered:   

Surely some revelation is at hand;
Surely the Second Coming is at hand

In Lord of the Rings, Frodo tells Gandalf that he wishes he did not live in the time he did, when such dreadful things were happening. Gandalf’s reply is for all of us:
So do I,’  said Gandalf, and so do all who live to see such times. But that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.’

A Hell of an Engineer

We’ve lost another hero and in fact, a hell of an engineer and pilot. By now you’ve figured¬†out that we Boilers hold an almost proprietary interest in space, not least since both the first and most recent men on the moon are our alumni, and even one of our band members. But “The Cradle of Astronauts” has had some¬†fellow travelers. One of them John Young died this weekend, the great heroes of the space program¬†continue to thin on the ground, and even in that company Captain John Young, USN (Ret) was special.

From Wikipedia:

After graduating from Georgia Tech in 1952, Young entered the United States Navythrough the Navy ROTC and was commissioned on June 6, 1952, as an ensign. He served as fire control officer on the destroyer USS Laws until June 1953 and completed a tour in the Sea of Japan during the Korean War. Following this assignment, he was sent to flight training. In January 1954, he was designated a Navy helicopter pilot. After receiving his aviator wings on December 20, 1954, he was assigned to Fighter Squadron 103 (VF-103) for four years, flying Grumman F-9 Cougars from USS Coral Sea and Vought F-8 Crusaders from USS Forrestal.

After training at the United States Naval Test Pilot School in 1959 with the Class 23, Young was assigned to the Naval Air Test Center at Naval Air Station Patuxent River, Maryland, for three years. His test projects included evaluations of the XF8U-3 Crusader III and F-4 Phantom II fighter weapons systems. In 1962, he set two world time-to-climb records while flying his Phantom II, attaining 3,000 meters (9,843 ft) from a standing start in 34.52 seconds and 25,000 meters (82,021 ft) from a standing start in 227.6 seconds. He also served as maintenance officer of Fighter Squadron 143 (VF-143) from April to September 1962.

Fellow astronaut¬†Charles Bolden¬†described Young and¬†Robert “Hoot” Gibson¬†as the two best pilots he had met during his aviation career: “Never met two people like them. Everyone else gets into an airplane; John and Hoot wear their airplane. They’re just awesome”.¬†Young retired from the Navy as a¬†Captain¬†in September 1976, after 25 years.

It’s before my time but it seems to me that getting assigned to Pax River after only about five years as a naval aviator tells us quite a lot about how great a pilot he was. So does the rest of his career.

The rest of his career would bear that out, he flew with Gus Grissom on Gemini 3, the first manned Gemini mission. He also won himself a Congressional reprimand when he smuggled a corned beef sandwich on board, knowing that Grissom would complain about the food. He commanded Gemini 10, including two spacewalks and two dockings with Agena target vehicles.

In May 1969 he was the first man to fly solo around the moon as part of Apollo 10. While commanding Apollo 16 he became the ninth man to walk on the moon. You may recall that the astronauts saluted the colors there upon leaving their spacecraft. Young made it special by saluting while in the middle of an approximately 24 in jump on the surface.

After that, he commanded STS 1, the maiden flight of the space shuttle and again commanded STS 9 which carried the first piece of Spacelab.

In January 1974 he became Chief of the Astronaut Office after the retirement of Alan Shepherd, the first American in space.

Young was openly critical of NASA management following the Challenger disaster, and in April 1987 was made Special Assistant to JSC Director Aaron Cohen for Engineering, Operations and Safety. NASA denied that his criticism triggered the move, although Young and industry insiders believed that was the reason for the reassignment In February 1996, he was assigned as Associate Director (Technical) JSC.

He officially retired on December 31, 2004, but remained involved for several years thereafter.

I’m not sure how much of a Ramblin Wreck he was but like so many from Georgia¬†Tech, He was a hell of an engineer,¬†and pilot, and astronaut. He’ll be missed.

Oh, I have slipped the surly bonds of earth
And danced the skies on laughter-silvered wings;
Sunward I’ve climbed and joined the tumbling mirth
Of sun-split clouds ‚ÄĒ and done a hundred things
You have not dreamed of; wheeled and soared and swung
High in the sun-lit silence. Hovering there
I’ve chased the shouting wind along, and flung
My eager craft through footless halls of air;
Up, up the long, delirious, burning blue
I’ve topped the wind-swept heights with easy grace,
Where never lark nor even eagle flew;
And while, with silent lifting mind I’ve trod
The high untrespassed sanctity of space,
Put out my hand, and touched the face of God.

Another hero crosses over, Rest in peace, sir.

Cryst, Buggere of Monkunde

We haven’t done any poetry here for a bit, nor have we visited with our favorite medievalist, A Clerk of Oxford for a while. Shame on us. But we can fix it this Gaudet Sunday, because she has a post about¬†Herebert’s ‘Holy moder, that bere Cryst‘. That should be appropriate enough.

It comes from his version of¬†‘Alma Redemptoris Mater’, the Compline antiphon for this season. Which you can hear here.

Holy moder, that bere Cryst, buggere of monkunde,
Thou art »Ěat of hevene blisse that prest wey »Ěyfst and bunde.
Thou sterre of se, rer op the folk that rysing haveth in munde.
In thee thou bere thyn holy fader,
That mayden were after and rather,
Wharof so wondreth kunde.
Of Gabrieles mouthe thou fonge thylke “Ave”;
Lesne ous of sunne nouthe, so we bisecheth thee. Amen.

Which is:

Holy mother, who bore Christ, buyer of mankind,
You are gate of heaven’s bliss, who gives the near and ready way.
You, star of the sea, raise up the folk who intend to rise.
Within you you bore your holy father,
Who maiden were before and after,
At which nature wonders.
From Gabriel’s mouth you received the ‘Ave’;
Release us from sins now, we beseech you. Amen.

The striking thing to me here is the use of the English ‘buyer’ instead of the Latin-derived¬†Redeemer. Redeemer comes from emptor, buyer, actually refers buying back, which is exactly accurate for Christ, isn’t it?

She also says that there is an aural play on the words for buyer and bear which alludes to Mary bearing Christ. I believe her, but I don’t speak middle English – sometimes I can make out the written, sometimes not, but it is fascinating.

Some direct from the Clerk, since she’s the expert. I’m surely not, although I love it.

The hymn imagines Mary as the open door to heaven, a road by which Christ enters the world and by which mankind can travel to joy. Herebert’s description of that road is again a little more expansive than the Latin, and he plays with a beautiful ambiguity in his language which is not present (I think) in his source. He says that Mary the ‘prest wey »Ěyfst and bunde’; I translated this above as ‘gives the near and ready way’, but it’s not quite as simple as that. Both¬†prest¬†and¬†bunde¬†mean something like ‘ready, prepared, near at hand’, and the sense is that the road to heaven is accessible and open (pervia¬†is the Latin word he’s building on). However, both words mean a good deal more than ‘open’. Both also connote energy, readiness, and eagerness, and in other Middle English texts are more often used of people than of objects or roads: of an army preparing for battle, a servant promptly attending on his lord, a lover eager to do his lady’s bidding – of anyone quick, lively, spirited, attentive, ready to spring into action. They’re incredibly life-filled words.

And so, perhaps, they suggest the eager, life-bearing, near-at-hand¬†person¬†in an Advent context: Christ, who stands ready to spring into the world through the gate opened by Mary. Herebert’s verb¬†»Ěyfst¬†offers more than the Latin, too: Mary ‘gives’ (not only ‘remains’) the way to heaven, and of course, she¬†gives¬†Christ to the world. The¬†way¬†in this poem is primarily the road to heaven but Christ, too, is ‘the way’, and the adjectives used to describe the¬†way¬†here could apply equally well – if not rather better – to him.

Herebert’s Christ is always an energetic figure, active, determined, and forceful, brimming with physical as well as spiritual vitality.

That is something I’ve noticed, The Christ depicted in medieval days was almost always an energetic figure, getting about and doing stuff, not the calm contemplative figure we are so used to now. I find him very attractive, a young man taking care of His Father’s business, so to speak, expeditiously¬†and with dispatch.

This is the Christ whom the medieval church saw in the young man of the Song of Songs, who comes seeking his beloved:

Look, he comes leaping on the mountains, bounding over the hills. My beloved is like a gazelle, or a young stag. Look, there he stands behind our wall, gazing in at the windows, looking through the lattice. My beloved speaks and says to me, ‘Arise, my love, my fair one, and come away. For now the winter is past, the rain is over and gone… Arise, my love, my fair one, and come away.’

This isn’t the passive, suffering Christ of most medieval poetry about the Crucifixion, nor the grave gentle Jesus of later imaginings; it’s something immensely vital, virile and alive, a shape-shifting force of pure energy. Herebert’s word¬†prest¬†exactly describes this Christ.

Don’t know about¬†you, I really like Herebert’s Christ, leaping over mountains, like a young stag. Seems so much more vital than the calm, wise, elder we are so often presented with. A joyful, loving young Christ, come to save us, rebuy us back from the devil. What’s not to like?

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