OLDIE PODCAzT 127: The Eve of St. Agnes and a Bleak Midwinter

As a favor to a friend, I’ll repost this old podcast.  It is the Eve of the Feast of St. Agnes, which of course reminds us of the famous poem by Keats.

I, fan of poetry that I am, read out Keat’s poem, 42 Spencerian stanzas.  It is torrid and lush, with marvelous moments and imagery, imbued with the revival of romantic, courtly love which was coming back into vogue in the early 19th century.

The poem takes inspiration from a superstition, which I explain in an introduction.

The Eve of St Agnes would inspire the Pre-Raphaelites, as a matter of fact.

Speaking of Pre-Raphaelites, one of their circle, was Christina Rossetti, a poet in her own right.

Christina Rossetti wrote a poem which later was made into a Christmas carol: In the Bleak Midwinter.  We are still within the Christmas cycle until Candlemas.


About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

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One Comment

  1. Semper Gumby says:

    Interesting post on Keats’ poem “The Eve of St. Agnes” and the pre-Raphaelite painters.

    Keats’ poem, at the prurient hands of the Deconstructionists, has been imbued with imagery that need not be mentioned here. An insightful essay on the Deconstructionists is Gertrude Himmelfarb’s “On Looking into the Abyss.” This essay takes a close, and at times graphic, look at what the Deconstructionists did to Wordsworth’s eight-line poem “A Slumber Did My Spirit Seal.” Traditionally, the poem has been read as a memorial to a girl who died at a tragically young age. Deconstructionists twisted it into something wicked.

    Turning to the 19th-century pre-Raphaelites, one talented painter was William Holman Hunt. One of Hunt’s interests was explaining Christian themes to non-Christians. In the 1850s he travelled to the Holy Land and, by the Dead Sea near “Mt. Oosdoom” (from the Arabic Jebel Usdum or Sodom), he painted “The Scapegoat.”

    Hunt’s “The Scapegoat” depicts a goat with red horns alone in the desert. The inspiration is Leviticus 16, in which a goat is selected, the sins of the Israelites placed upon its head, and then dispatched to the wilderness.

    The Scapegoat theme is also active in politics. Basically, the reason for Earth not being a Paradise is that the “Others,” the “Scapegoats,” refuse to convert to the latest secular religion. Scapegoating is a driving force of Communism and National Socialism, and of the “Democrat” Party.

    Unfortunately, the Scapegoat theme is active in today’s Catholic Church, from Francis’ frequent outbursts to “Purge” McElroy of San Diego. The Scapegoat theme can also be glimpsed in a conflicted Twitter sub-culture of certain laity and priests who alternate between traditional piety and tradphobia.

    “If you don’t behave as you believe, you will end up by believing as you behave.” – Fulton Sheen

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