Academic journal article Anglican Theological Review

Bright Maiden of the Purgatorio

Academic journal article Anglican Theological Review

Bright Maiden of the Purgatorio

Article excerpt

I followed her along the river's banks--

how might I have traveled without her aid,

scaled the mountain of visionary love?

Over that stream of cleansing water she moved

with such light, sweet singing, and so wise

she awed even Virgil, my eldest guide.

Mechthild of the Flowing Godhead, fiery grace,

gatherer of May blossoms from no earthly garden!

Fragments of looking glass she offered, mirror

of that spirit world she knew. True I changed

her name, disguised my source. (A woman

cannot always lead.) Yet she first told of Eden

revived on earth, the twofold paradise,

like one most tutored in theology.

Her words stirred both mind and soul:

"Who dies of love shall be buried in God."

Across the River Lethe she bore me

that I might forget my sinfulness, rest

at last on that sacred shore where Jesus

beckons, redemption won. There to witness

the great procession of saints: chariots

of living green, seven golden flames

like trees afire, and maidens clad in red

and white, charity and faith, while hope

in spring promised fruit for earth. …

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