Medieval English Prose for Women: Selections from the Katherine Group and Ancrene Wisse

By Bella Millett; Jocelyn Wogan-Browne | Go to book overview
Save to active project

A Letter on Virginity
A letter on virginity for the encouragement of virgins

Listen, daughter, and behold, and incline your ear; and forget your people and your father's house. David the psalmist is speaking in the Psalter to the bride of God -- that is, every virgin who has the virtues of virginity -- and he says: 'Hear me, daughter, behold and incline your ear; and forget your people and your father's house.'

Take note of what each word separately means. 'Hear me, daughter,' he says. He calls her 'daughter' so that she may understand that he is lovingly teaching her the love of eternal life, as a father ought his daughter; and that she may listen to him the more gladly as her father. 'Hear me, dear daughter': that is, 'listen to me carefully with your bodily ears.' 'And behold': that is, 'open the eyes of your heart to understand me.' 'And incline your ear': that is, 'be obedient to my teaching.' She may say in answer, 'And now what is this teaching that you take so seriously, and instruct me in so earnestly?' It is this: 'Forget your people and your father's house.'

'Your people' are what David calls the carnal thoughts which crowd into your mind, which incite you and draw you on with their goadings to carnal filthiness, to physical desires, and urge you towards marriage and a husband's embrace, and make you think what pleasure there would be in them, what comfort in the riches that these ladies have, how much that is good might come from your children. Oh, false people, treacherous advisers, how your mouths flatter, as you put forward all that seems good, and hide all that bitter misery which lurks underneath, and all the great loss which will be the result! 'Forget all this people, my beloved daughter,' says David the prophet: that is, 'cast these thoughts out of your heart.' This is the people of Babylon, the army of the Devil of hell, who are plotting to lead the daughter of Zion into the world's servitude.

'Zion' was once the name of the high tower of Jerusalem; and 'Zion' corresponds to 'high vision' in English. And this tower signifies the high state of virginity, which as if from a height sees all widows below it, and married women too. For these, as slaves of the flesh, are in the

-3-

Notes for this page

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
Loading One moment ...
Project items
Notes
Cite this page

Cited page

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited page

Bookmark this page
Medieval English Prose for Women: Selections from the Katherine Group and Ancrene Wisse
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this book

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

While we understand printed pages are helpful to our users, this limitation is necessary to help protect our publishers' copyrighted material and prevent its unlawful distribution. We are sorry for any inconvenience.
Full screen
/ 219

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.

Are you sure you want to delete this highlight?