Thursday, October 31, 2013

The Piasa Bird

THIS TERRIFYING CREATURE is the Piasa Bird, painted on the river bluffs upstream from Alton, Illinois.

Piasa Bird, Alton, Illinois, USA

This is a loose, modern interpretation of original paintings mentioned by Fr. Jacques Marquette, S.J., who explored this area with Louis Joliet in 1673. From his journal:
“While Skirting some rocks, which by Their height and Length inspired awe, We saw upon one of them two painted monsters which at first made Us afraid, and upon Which the boldest savages dare not Long rest their eyes. They are as large As a calf; they have Horns on their heads Like those of deer, a horrible look, red eyes, a beard Like a tiger’s, a face somewhat like a man’s, a body Covered with scales, and so Long A tail that it winds all around the Body, passing above the head and going back between the legs, ending in a Fish’s tail. Green, red, and black are the three Colors composing the Picture. Moreover, these 2 monsters are so well painted that we cannot believe that any savage is their author; for good painters in france would find it difficult to paint so well, — and, besides, they are so high up on the rock that it is difficult to reach that place Conveniently to paint them.”
We are told that ‘piasa’ means man-eater. A legend of the Piasa bird was written by a classics professor from Alton, John Russell, in about 1836, which can be read in its entirety here:
“…Each morning and afternoon thereafter, the Piasa Bird came, shattering the peace of the village with its blood-chilling screams and the thunderous beat of its wings. More often than not, it returned to its lair with a victim.

“The Illini looked to their chief, Ouatoga, for a solution to this menace. Time and time again he had led them through the trials of famine, illness, and the threat of warlike tribes. But Ouatoga felt helpless before this danger and the years weighed heavily upon him. The beast seemed invulnerable. His body was covered with scales, like a coat-of-mail. The best efforts of Tera-hi-on-a-wa-ka, the arrow maker, and the tribe’s finest archers were to no avail.

“Then Ouatoga appealed to the Great Spirit. For nearly a full moon he prayed and fasted. Then in a dream he found the answer. The body of the Piasa Bird was not protected under the wings. After offering thanks to the Great Spirit, Ouatoga called the tribe together and devised a plan that could destroy the Piasa Bird…”

Thursday, October 24, 2013

A Canoe Trip on the Mingo River

LAST SATURDAY, I went on a canoe trip at the Mingo National Wildlife Refuge, in the southeastern part of the state of Missouri, near the town of Puxico.

Mingo National Wildlife Refuge, in Puxico, Missouri, USA - canoers

Autumn is perhaps the prettiest time of year in this part of the world, narrowly beating out Spring due to typically dry weather. This was a cold day — not the best for canoeing, due to the risk of capsize — but a beautiful one. The lack of mosquitoes and deadly vipers during this time of year makes a fall visit even more appealing.

Mingo National Wildlife Refuge, in Puxico, Missouri, USA - fall colors

The Mingo River meanders through the Mingo swamp, which is a small remnant of a formerly much larger swamp that covered the lowlands near the Mississippi River, south of Cape Girardeau, Missouri.

Much of these lowlands were drained and logged a century or more ago, with the land now being used for crops. But flooding is always a concern here; nearly the entirety of nearby Mississippi County is sacrificed as a floodway when the waters get too high.

The land is flat and featureless, with only the nearby Crowley’s Ridge giving relief to the topography of the region. In the forest itself, it is quite easy to get lost, for all directions look the same, and the bends of waterways can trap the casual hiker.

Mingo National Wildlife Refuge, in Puxico, Missouri, USA - green carpet of duckweed

Duckweed, which is perhaps the smallest of all flowering plants, covers a stretch of the gently flowing river. The sound of the canoe pushing through the duckweed is not unlike the sound of a sled in snow.

Mingo National Wildlife Refuge, in Puxico, Missouri, USA - duckweed

A common tree in these swamps is the Bald cypress (Taxodium distichum). While a relative of the evergreens, this cypress loses its leaves in the winter. The leaves turn a dull reddish-orange color in the Fall, as seen in these photos.

Mingo National Wildlife Refuge, in Puxico, Missouri, USA - cypress trunk and duckweed

These cypresses have a distinctive wide base, as well as ‘knees’ that stick up out of the water around the base, as seen here.  Some individual trees here are older than a thousand years. Cypress wood is valued because it does not rot when wet; in Europe, cypress and cedar (also found here) were valued for the construction of churches, as we find in the stave churches of Scandinavia. The First Jewish Temple of Solomon was constructed of these woods, imported from Lebanon.

Architecturally speaking, this is a much-neglected wood. And as it happens, cypress swamps are the most productive of all forestlands. As land can be inexpensive here, it would seem to be reasonably easy to reestablish larger cypress forests.

Tupelo trees, which also grow here in the water, have smoother, somewhat rounded bases.

Mingo National Wildlife Refuge, in Puxico, Missouri, USA - trees and reflections, big X

These photos are best displayed on a dark background; click the photo to be taken to Flickr, where you can get a better view of them.

This is about the northernmost range of cypress, which is found throughout the Southeastern US. While it will grow farther north (many are planted in Forest Park, in Saint Louis), the tree does not reproduce well if it gets too cold.

Mingo National Wildlife Refuge, in Puxico, Missouri, USA - line of trees

Like the Nile delta in Egypt, the Mississippi River delta is vast, and relatively unknown to most Americans. Stretching for about 600 miles from southern Missouri, through Arkansas, Kentucky, Tennessee, and Mississippi, it ends in the swamplands of Louisiana at the Gulf of Mexico. While this region is heavily modified by humans, frequent flooding shows nature’s dominance.

The Mississippi River, which is placid and clear in its northernmost stretches, becomes deep, narrow, muddy, and swift, starting just north of Saint Louis at the river’s confluence with the Missouri River: this is also a dangerous stretch of river, where perhaps on average one steamboat wreck per mile can be uncovered, and many sunken modern barges can be see here in low water.

But after the confluence of the Ohio River — which forms the southern border of Illinois — the Mississippi becomes sluggish, laden with silt, and meandering, splitting off into innumerable islands, and bordered by vast swamps, even to this day. A major flood could cut off one part of a state and attach it to another, as we find in many places hereabouts, including one large part of Kentucky, located across the river from New Madrid, which is not connected to the rest of the state.

At about this point, Fr. Jacques Marquette, S.J., who explored this area for the King of France and the Church, in the year 1673, wrote:
“Here we Began to see Canes, or large reeds, which grow on the bank of the river; their color is a very pleasing green; all the nodes are marked by a Crown of Long, narrow, and pointed leaves. They are very high, and grow so thickly that The wild cattle have some difficulty in forcing their way through them."
Mingo National Wildlife Refuge, in Puxico, Missouri, USA - bald cypress

Missouri is typically considered to be a midwestern state in culture, and central Missouri’s dialect is the standard for national journalism in the USA. But the southeastern part of the state shows its historic southern roots as accents and other artifacts of culture change quickly the farther south you travel.

It is in this region that developed the distinctive American style of music known as the Blues, which greatly influenced popular styles of music worldwide. Here we find both fertile soil and great poverty; mixed with Calvinist religion, we then have a culture and its music which is haunted by the Devil, in every impenetrable swamp and at every crossroad. Singing the Blues, they say, gives you the blues.

Mingo National Wildlife Refuge, in Puxico, Missouri, USA - canoers -2

But this was a pleasant and beautiful day, helped by an expert guide and pleasant company.

Monday, October 21, 2013

A Stained Glass Remnant

A REMNANT OF a stained glass window, at Gus’ Pretzels, in south Saint Louis.

Gus' Pretzel, in Saint Louis, Missouri, USA - stained glass window of the nativity, from the demolished Saint Aloysius Gonzaga Church

The plaque reads:
Brothers August and Bernard Koebbe, father and uncle of Gus Koebbe Sr., donated this “Nativity” window in 1925 to St. Aloysius Gonzaga Church in south St. Louis.
The church was destroyed in 2006.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

A Walk Around the Block in Soulard

SOÛLARD, in French, means ‘drunkard’, and this name seems rather appropriate for the Soulard neighborhood of Saint Louis, Missouri, known for its numerous bars, as well as the riotous behavior of visitors during its annual Mardi Gras celebrations. But this near south-side neighborhood — largely delineated by Interstate 55 and South Broadway — has many charms.

This neighborhood gets its name from the colonial figure of Antoine Pierre Soulard (1766-1825). He was a Frenchman, who came to these shores fleeing the Revolution. He eventually became the King of Spain’s Surveyor General of Upper Louisiana — a vast land which included the Saint Louis area. After President Thomas Jefferson purchased the Louisiana territory — an act which doubled the size of the United States — it was Soulard who handed over this part of the territory to the American governor. After his retirement, Soulard tended to his orchard, which was located in this neighborhood which now bears his name.

Here are some photos I took this summer, in the Soulard neighborhood, during a walk around a couple of blocks, at sunset and dusk, near the historic Soulard Farmers Market.

Soulard Neighborhood, in Saint Louis, Missouri, USA - Mansard roofs - 1

Much of the architecture of this area dates from the second half of the 19th century through the first few decades of the 20th. Due to benign neglect, this neighborhood maintained its charm while other areas nearby were destroyed by modernization. The fury of ‘urban renewal’ throughout the nation subsided in the early 1970s — often attributed to the failure of the huge Pruitt-Igoe housing complex in north Saint Louis — and the beauty of the once-hated Victorian-era architecture was rediscovered.

Other neighborhoods in the city — particularly on the north side — are slowly disappearing, due to neglect which cannot be called benign. Recent in-fill housing in these areas tend to be rather disappointing, being largely suburban-style homes with little charm, character, or solidity.

Soulard Neighborhood, in Saint Louis, Missouri, USA - Mansard roof

Notice the ornate detail on this building, exceeding the quality of work that is done today; but this level of artistry is commonplace here.

Many buildings here have Mansard-style roofs. These are named after François Mansart, a royal architect of the Baroque period in France, who popularized this kind of steep roof, which allows for an additional occupiable story on buildings. The style experienced a revival, especially in Paris during the Second French Empire, and was widely copied in the English-speaking world, including here in Soulard. One of the disadvantages of the Mansard roof is that the top story is usually an undesirable place to live: hereabouts, it gets extremely hot under the roof during summer, while in Paris before the invention of elevators, the Mansard was a long climb up from street level, and so the Mansard, often the location of the lowest-rent apartments, became associated with starving artists and bohemians.

The 1960s saw another revival of the Mansard form, but the quality of the work tended to be bad — or cheap and tasteless — and it inspired the local blog Bad Mansard.

Soulard Neighborhood, in Saint Louis, Missouri, USA - Soulard Market

At the end of the street is the Soulard Farmers Market, which dates back to 1779. You can see the Gateway Arch to the right of the 1929 building, which is modeled after Brunelleschi's Ospedale deli Innocenti or Foundling's Hospital, in Florence.

The amenities of modern supermarkets are lacking here, likewise lacking is the middle-class who patronize those markets; rather, we find here mainly the poor and the wealthy. The form, organization, and economics of this market can be best called premodern, where the City leases out stalls here to farmers and merchants; similar arrangements can be found in the ancient cities in Europe and elsewhere.

Soulard Neighborhood, in Saint Louis, Missouri, USA - townhouses

In Soulard, it is the tops of buildings that tend to have most of the charm. I suspect that architectural details closer to the ground may have been destroyed or otherwise lost in the past century, and you still can see clues of shutters, balconies, and decoration that have been removed. Wood needs to be painted periodically otherwise it will rot, while much ironwork was scrapped during the Second World War to make steel for the war effort. Some buildings here have been fully restored, but most have not.

Home prices can be high here — note the expensive automobiles seen here — and decades ago, many of the old-time residents resented the intrusion of newcomers in the neighborhood who drove up rents and who had odd lifestyles.

Soulard Neighborhood, in Saint Louis, Missouri, USA - cornice

A major source of Soulard's popularity is undoubtably its beauty, despite its high crime rate, and its many restaurants make it a popular area for weekday lunch.

By means of comparison, the artist David Clayton describes the value of Boston's Beacon Hill neighborhood:
This past weekend I drove down to Boston from southern New Hampshire to meet a friend who was visiting for the weekend. As we walked around town we wandered into the Beacon Hill area. This is the old heart of the town and full of elegant 18th-century terraced homes. They are built in a variation of the style that in England we would call Georgian. I’m not sure what it is called here, perhaps ‘colonial’ style? These are right at the top end of the price range for property in Boston.

Why are they so sought after? Well location will have a lot to do with it certainly. You would probably pay a fortune for the ugliest shoebox here if it could take a bed. But I would say also that their beauty is a big factor too. Beauty adds value because it stimulates greater demand and pushes the price tag up. And why are they beautiuful? Two hundred years of New England weather softening the edges on the red-brick or cobblestone forms probably adds something. But it is more than this. The main reason, I suggest, is their harmonious proportions.
The buildings in Soulard were built over the better part of a century, and yet the structures tend to harmonize with each other, despite being of varying style. Undoubtably part of this is due to the requirement that all buildings were to be built of brick — this law came into force after a steamboat explosion led to the destruction of a sizable part of downtown — but also because the buildings harmonize with each other proportionately. All of this predates Le Corbusier and the Bauhaus, the early champions of Modernism, who discarded centuries of aesthetic wisdom.

Soulard Neighborhood, in Saint Louis, Missouri, USA - Saint Elizabeth Settlement House

This is the former Saint Elizabeth Settlement House, which was originally a Catholic orphanage.

David Clayton continues:
What struck me about these houses is how simple and reproducible their design is. They have a simple symmetrical arrangement of windows, one above the other, and a pointy roof. There is some decorative work around the doors and the windows, but it could never be called flamboyant. If I knew about building materials then I reckon I could design one myself. Yet despite their simplicity they look good and it is as a result of the traditional proportionality.

Given this simplicity and the value that beauty adds to buildings, I am surprised that it hasn’t occurred to more developers and architects to study traditional proportion and use it, if only for economic reasons.

Look at the photos in this article. Notice how in every case the window size varies, storey to storey, so that the first is to the second as the second is the third and so on. When this rhythmical progression corresponds to the traditional pattern then the result is elegance. Sometimes the order changed around slightly so that it is not always the largest at the bottom. The dimensions of the first and second might be changed so the biggest storey is always the main living area. These architects didn’t play tricks – they put things where you expected them to be, so that the outward signs give an indication of the internal purpose. Similarly, the main door is always more prominent than the servants’ entrance. (You can’t count on this now. I was at an art gallery recently, which was a modern building made completely of reflective glass and the doorway was indistinguishable from any other panel. There was no indication through the external design where the door was. In fact it was placed offset to one side in a counter-intuitive position, presumably deliberately. I had to wait until I saw someone coming out before I knew where I could get in!)

Coming back to Beacon Hill, I am convinced that these houses looked just about as good the day they were built and if anyone chose to conform to these basic patterns today, then it would look good and sell at a high price. This has to be the simplest way for an architect to add greatest value for minimal investment of time and money. There is no need for pastiche – we are not bound slavishly to follow the decorative style of the period in every way, but provided the principles are adhered to, then here is way for modern architect to stand out from the crowd. The mathematics is relatively simple (I have presented it all in an article about proportionality, here).
When Soulard was originally developed, it was a true urban neighborhood in the traditional manner, where the various classes lived side-by-side, with stores and taverns on the corners, and blocks with factories alternated with blocks of housing and blocks with churches and schools. Public parks and amenities were found on the edges of the neighborhood, within easy walking distance.

Some would say that social harmony can be helped by architectural harmony, but the idea of architectural harmony, still seen in Soulard, has been largely lost elsewhere. We nowadays have ugly skyscrapers, products of excessive pride, towering overhead, or huge and featureless warehouses, or we have vast developments of identical, factory-produced homes or apartment complexes, made with inferior materials, little charm, and degraded taste. But harmony means neither discordant notes nor unison, but rather variety within a common key.

Discordant music became popular with the cultural elites, and discordant architecture soon followed, and the great cities of the United States soon fell apart from social disharmony. As good can come out of evil, perhaps this is for the best; industrialization forced the creation of large cities, filled with squalor. Perhaps it is best not to have large numbers of people living on top of each other. But something has been lost: the means of encouraging harmony even in unfortunate circumstances.

Soulard Neighborhood, in Saint Louis, Missouri, USA - Saint Elizabeth Settlement House close-up

A closer view of Saint Elizabeth's.

A traditional neighborhood like this one both promotes democracy as well as private property — or, at least the traditional notions of such concepts, which are both quite specific and on a local scale. Today, both notions are far removed from their source, where decisions are made far away by strangers, and property may be taken arbitrarily by the well-connected.

While the mishmash of land uses found in Soulard would be rejected by most modern zoning laws, please consider that it was in such neighborhoods as this that many of the social problems of their day were solved. The gracious mansions of the business owners were just around the block from the simple but noble row houses of workers. They patronized the same stores and taverns, and would see each other in the same parks. In that day, there were few large housing projects for the poor nor were there significant exurban enclaves for the wealthy.

How much better can decisions be made if ordinary people debate amongst themselves, where opposition is man-to-man? While this system did lead to violence, at least it was between those who had a grudging respect for each other, unlike today. A Puritan-minded employer who felt the need to violently chastise an insolent subordinate was balanced by the fact that his employee lived down the block from him (and had lots of tough friends), and that there were plenty of other employers in the neighborhood to whom the employee could freely go. Likewise, an envious worker who otherwise would seek revenge, could see for himself what goes into making a successful or a failed business, for he would personally know many business owners. In this environment, the common good was more obvious to all.

Nowadays, how many factory owners live within walking distance of the their business and their employees? How many shopkeepers live above their stores? How many owners of businesses that you patronize do you personally know? How many people walk to work or walk to church? How many politicians are actually seen living in their own district? But in Soulard's heyday, these were the norm.

Soulard Neighborhood, in Saint Louis, Missouri, USA - spire of Saints Peter and Paul Church

The tower of Saints Peter and Paul Catholic Church. This is the parish's third church building on this site, dedicated in 1875. The Saint Joseph Croatian church is nearby, as is Saint John Nepomuk, as well as some Protestant churches.

Sts Peter and Paul has a small congregation, but according to its website:
Every day from the 2nd through the 21st of each month, a free meal is served at our Parish Mid-Level Hall. These nutritious, tasty meals are served to the residents of the shelter, as well as to families and individuals in the Soulard area, who may be on limited or fixed incomes. We have between 80 and 200 guests who dine with us each day.

Soulard Neighborhood, in Saint Louis, Missouri, USA - townhouse with Mansard and flags

This house displays the flag of Quebec, flanked on both sides by the flag of the City of Saint Louis. Both flags feature the fleur-de-lys, recognizing that both were once part of the French Empire.

I remember my French grandmother enjoying visits to this neighborhood, for of all places in the City, this most reminded her of her home country.

Soulard Neighborhood, in Saint Louis, Missouri, USA - flowers

The small yards found here are often nicely ornamented with flowers.

Soulard Neighborhood, in Saint Louis, Missouri, USA - window grille

A decorative grille. Just because an object has a grim utilitarian purpose — in this case, keeping out intruders — that does mean that it has to lack good attractive design. This grille even has symbolic value — arrows are a sign of defense.

Soulard Neighborhood, in Saint Louis, Missouri, USA - dinosaur sculpture

A dinosaur sculpture? I can’t explain it.

Soulard Neighborhood, in Saint Louis, Missouri, USA - fountain

A decorative fountain with marigolds.

Soulard Neighborhood, in Saint Louis, Missouri, USA - flower pot

More flowers.

Soulard Neighborhood, in Saint Louis, Missouri, USA - Mansard home with ivy

Many artists and members of the avant-garde live in this neighborhood. This is odd, since this traditional neighborhood is the antithesis of modernism, and obviously the architecture here is premodern. However, there is a deeper reason for this apparent disconnect. The philosophy of Existentialism, upon which much of modernity is built, posits and even encourages a definite opposition between the mind and the body, in a Cartesian or even a Gnostic-like manner; this can lead to an existential crisis, where the meaning of life is questioned. One way of coping with this kind of vertiginous crisis is through the search for authenticity. A neighborhood such as this, which is solidly anchored in the past, can help relieve a resident of the restless pursuit of novelty, along with the negative psychological consequences of that pursuit.

Also, it would be hard to point out a contemporary neighborhood which is better designed, but well-designed neighborhoods were once the norm, as any casual inspection of the many neighborhoods in this city will demonstrate.

Soulard Neighborhood, in Saint Louis, Missouri, USA - Mansard home with bus

The apartments and homes found here tend to be quite large by modern standards —  not in land area, but certainly in square footage of livable area.

By the way, these images are made to look best at full resolution on a dark background, which can be found by clicking on each image. Reduced in size as seen here, these images look a bit rough.

Chelsea with dog - 600 px

This young woman asked me to take a picture with her beloved dog.

Soulard Neighborhood, in Saint Louis, Missouri, USA - International Tap House

A ‘mosaic’ made of bottle caps at the International Tap House, which is known for its variety of beers on tap. It does not serve light beers, and only sells beers from small brewers, and so it can claim authenticity.

Soulard Neighborhood, in Saint Louis, Missouri, USA - Pere Jacques Ale

As I had just completed my latest book, in celebration I ordered a bottle of Pere Jacques ale, from Chicago's Goose Island brewery. The name comes from Father Jacques Marquette, S.J., who was an early missionary in French north America, who canoed past the future site of Saint Louis in 1673.

Soulard Neighborhood, in Saint Louis, Missouri, USA - diners at outdoor counter

Outdoor dining at the window.

One major difference between Soulard in its prime and Soulard today is children; few are found here. The responsibility of heading a family and raising children — denigrated and unstable vocations in our time — if absent, definitely can change the character of a neighborhood. But this area still has great charms, and lessons to teach us today.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Newsletter from the Oratory


2653 Ohio Avenue
Saint Louis, Missouri 63118
October 16, 2013


Dear Faithful and Friends of Saint Francis de Sales Oratory,


The Seminary Society Breakfast this year will be held after both Masses on Sunday, November 3, instead of the Feast of Christ the King. Already a custom at the Oratory, the Seminary Society Breakfast is a joyful, family-oriented time that focuses on the Institute’s seminarians and the need to support them spiritually and materially.

We at the Oratory have the pleasure and privilege of witnessing the transformation in many young men as they journey from candidacy to the seminary, and, in no time at all, to the priesthood.

As the most recent photo of the General Chapter shows, the number of Institute priests continues to grow from year to year. The seminarians of today will add to the ranks of the many canons assembled under the watchful eye of Saint Francis de Sales.

As we commemorate this month the Fifth Anniversary of the granting of the Pontifical Right to the Institute by the Holy See in 2008, we also remember the importance of priestly formation in these seminarians as they journey towards the Altar in service of the Church and souls. Not so long from now, they will be entrusted with the mission of the Institute, and to carry it out with dedication and fidelity.


At the Breakfast this year, we will meet these seminarians in a film being prepared for us by Abbe Gardner and other seminarians. Our families, particularly the children, will recognize many familiar faces, and perhaps notice the effect all our prayers have on their lives in the seminary.

We will have the opportunity to sign up to pray for specific seminarians for the coming year.

Please mark your calendars and plan to join us.

Saturday, December 14th, 6:00pm

A highlight of the Advent Season, the Gaudete Benefit Gala has become an annual tradition of fine food and music that you won’t want to miss! The evening features an elegant dinner as well as live performances of the Oratory’s various music ensembles under the direction of Mr. Nick Botkins, the Oratory’s Director of Sacred Music.


(Photos of last year's Gala at the Oratory)

Performance highlights of the 2013 Gaudete Benefit Gala include movements of Vivaldi’s popular Gloria, as well as Gustav Holst’s charming collection of traditional carols – Christmas Day.

The Gaudete Benefit Gala supports the Oratory’s continually growing Sacred Music Program. This year’s venue is the magnificent Grand Ballroom at the Millennium Hotel in downtown Saint Louis.

Mark your calendar and plan to buy your tickets early, they don’t last long!

Gala Tickets are available for purchase by calling the Oratory office (314) 771-3100, or after the Sunday Masses starting November 17th through December 8th. $45 per ticket or $75 (Orchestra Seating)


The Oratory is seeking a new tenant for the portion of the “1888 Building” that is currently leased by a daycare center. As the rental income is an indispensable part of our tight budget, your prayer and help for this matter is deeply appreciated. Since the second and third floor of this building will continue to be used by our choirs for rehearsals, the home-school co-op and other groups active at the Oratory, it would be ideal to find a compatible tenant as soon as possible.

Our 1888 building, the original girl’s school of the former parish is in good condition for its age and was recently code inspected and ready for lease. It has served as a daycare for the last 20 or so years and is located on Iowa Avenue behind the church and rectory. The two bottom floors will become available for lease on January 01, 2014.

Here is the listing on Craigslist that gives a description of the property.


Schedule of Upcoming Events:
Sunday, October 27
 – Feast of Christ the King 
8am Low Mass; 10am High Mass
All the faithful who assist at Mass at the Oratory this day may gain a plenary indulgence
under the usual conditions.
Friday, November 1 – All Saints Day – Holy Day of Obligation
8am; 12:15pm Low Mass & 6:30pm High Mass
Saturday, November 2 – All Souls Day
8am Low Mass; 10am High Mass
Daylight Savings Time ends - Clocks are turned BACK 1 hour
at 2:00 AM Sunday morning
Sunday, November 3 - Seminary Society Breakfast
December 14, 6:00 PM - Millennium Hotel - Gaudete Benefit Gala

With my sincere greetings to all of you and the assurance of my prayers in Christ the King,
Canon Michael K. Wiener
Rector, St. Francis de Sales Oratory

Monday, October 07, 2013

Some Ancient Spanish Poetry

Miguel de Cervantes, the great Spanish writer, served as a Marine under the chivalric Don Juan of Austria, in the Holy League’s fleet during the Battle of Lepanto. This great naval battle, which took place on October 7th, 1571, defeated the plans of the Ottoman Empire to further the spread of Islam into Europe. Cervantes, although he was ill before battle, managed to fight with distinction, and suffered three gunshot wounds, one of which left his left arm useless — but as he later wrote, he “had lost the movement of the left hand for the glory of the right,” since he was proud of his military service while gaining fame from his writing.

The Church, in commemoration of this great battle, instituted the feast of Our Lady of Victories, now called the Feast of the Most Holy Rosary of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

Cervantes is most famous for his book El ingenioso hidalgo don Quijote de la Mancha (The Ingenious Gentleman Don Quixote of La Mancha), better known as simply Don Quixote. According the book’s article on Wikipedia, “It follows the adventures of Alonso Quijano, an hidalgo who reads so many chivalric novels that he decides to set out to revive chivalry, under the name Don Quixote. He recruits a simple farmer, Sancho Panza, as his squire, who often employs a unique, earthly wit in dealing with Don Quixote’s rhetorical orations on antiquated knighthood.”

Cervantes’ novel, at the time of its publication, was widely celebrated as a comedy, and it became so familiar that the book became the model for the modern Spanish language, giving it a place similar to Luther’s translation of the Bible into German, or the influence of Dante’s Divine Comedy on Italian. He was a contemporary of William Shakespeare, and their works show a number of similarities.

Don Quixote is widely considered to be the first modern novel; it rejects the symbolism of Medieval fiction and its serious martial themes, and instead concentrates on psychology and everyday life in a humorous manner.

However, by the time of the French Revolution, the book became interpreted romantically, where the foolish main character of the book was depicted as an idealistic dreamer who is rejected by society. We see this romanticism in the song The Impossible Dream (or Don Quixote’s Quest) from the popular 1965 Broadway play Man of La Mancha, here performed by Ed Ames on October 4th, 2008:

Don Quixote is perhaps responsible for killing an entire genre of literature—and it was a Christian genre. In reading stories of noble knights and kings, we are reminded that the lowliest Christian peasant is a solider doing spiritual battle, and has the high dignity of being a member of the Body of Christ and the Royal Priesthood of the faithful, and that even the greatest of Kings also must serve a higher power. The modernist novel reduces everyone to the lowest common materialist denominator.

Don Quixote parodies many ancient Spanish poems, and as it is our goal to re-evaluate Modernism, let’s revisit some of these poems to discover their true value. These were translated into English by John Gibson Lockhart, and published in his book Ancient Spanish Ballads: Historical and Romantic. The illustrations here come from an edition of the book made by several artists including Owen Jones, the famed Welsh art theorist I wrote about here.

King Rodrigo was the last Visigothic ruler in Hispania, whose Christian realm was taken by the Moors.
The Lamentation of Don Roderick.

I. THE hosts of Don Rodrigo were scatter'd in dismay,
When lost was the eighth battle, nor heart nor hope had they ;
He, when he saw that field was lost, and all his hope was flown,
He turn'd him from his flying host, and took his way alone.

II. His horse was bleeding, blind, and lame he could no farther go ;
Dismounted, without path or aim, the King stepp'd to and fro ;
It was a sight of pity to look on Roderick,
For, sore athirst and hungry, he stagger'd faint and sick.

III. All stain'd and strew'd with dust and blood, like to some smouldering brand
Pluck'd from the flame Rodrigo shew'd : his sword was in his hand,
But it was hack'd into a saw of dark and purple tint ;
His jewell'd mail had many a flaw, his helmet many a dint.

IV. He climb'd unto a hill top, the highest he could see,
Thence all about of that wide route his last long look took he ;
He saw his royal banners, where they lay drench'd and torn,
He heard the cry of victory, the Arab's shout of scorn.

V. He look'd for the brave captains that had led the hosts of Spain,
But all were fled except the dead, and who could count the slain !
Where'er his eye could wander, all bloody was the plain,
And while thus he said, the tears he shed run down his cheeks like rain

VI. “Last night I was the King of Spain to-day no king am I ;
Last night fair castles held my train, to-night where shall I lie ?
Last night a hundred pages did serve me on the knee
To-night not one I call mine own : not one pertains to me.

VII. “O luckless, luckless was the hour, and cursed was the day,
When I was born to have the power of this great signiory !
Unhappy me, that I should see the sun go down to-night !
O Death, why now so slow art thou, why fearest thou to smite ?”


We often forget the Germanic history of Spain, but in this lament, perhaps we can see the melancholy often found in the ancient poems of the North, mourning for the loss of the good things in life, as found in the Anglo-Saxon poem The Wanderer. But laments are also found in Sacred scripture, making up a large part of the book of Psalms. These are an embarrassment to modernist religionists who are always optimistic about human progress.

After the King's great military loss, he needed an extreme penance, for aren't the sins of the great worthy of far more reparation than the sins of the multitude? Unfortunately, the translator Lockhart, in his notes on this poem, is rather dismissive as he is with many of the poems. Rather, in this story, the defeated King shows true humility and sorrow for his wrongdoing.

The Penitence of Don Roderick.

I. IT was when the King Rodrigo had lost his realm of Spain,
In doleful plight he held his flight o'er Guadalete's plain ;
Afar from the fierce Moslem he fain would hide his wo,
And up among the wilderness of mountains he would go.

II. There lay a shepherd by the rill, with all his flock beside him ;
He ask'd him where upon his hill a weary man might hide him.
“Not far” quoth he, “within the wood dwells our old Eremite ;
He in his holy solitude will hide ye all the night.”

III. “Good friend,” quoth he, “I hunger.”—“Alas !” the shepherd said, -
“My scrip no more containeth but one little loaf of bread.”
The weary King was thankful, the poor man's loaf he took ;
He by him sate, and while he ate, his tears fell in the brook.

IV. From underneath his garment the King unlock'd his chain,
A golden chain with many a link, and the royal ring of Spain ;
He gave them to the wondering man, and with heavy steps and slow
He up the wild his way began, to the hermitage to go.

V. The sun had just descended into the western sea,
And the holy man was sitting in the breeze beneath his tree ;
“I come, I come, good father, to beg a boon from thee :
This night within thy hermitage give shelter unto me.”

VI. The old man look'd upon the King, he scann'd him o'er and o'er ;
He look'd with looks of wondering, he marvell'd more and more ;
With blood and dust distained was the garment that he wore,
And yet in utmost misery a kingly look he bore.

VII. “Who art thou, weary stranger ? This path why hast thou ta’en ?”
“I am Rodrigo ; yesterday men call'd me King of Spain ;
I come to make my penitence within this lonely place ;
Good father, take thou no offense, for God and Mary’s grace.”

VIII. The hermit look'd with fearful eye upon Rodrigo's face,
“Son, mercy dwells with the Most High not hopeless is thy case ;
Thus far thou well hast chosen, I to the Lord will pray,
He will reveal what penance may wash thy sin away.”

IX. Now, God us shield ! it was reveal'd that he his bed must make
Within a tomb, and share its gloom with a black and living snake.
Rodrigo bow'd his humbled head when God's command he heard,
And with the snake prepared his bed, according to the word.

X. The holy Hermit waited till the third day was gone,
Then knock'd he with his finger upon the cold tombstone ;
“Good king, good king,” the Hermit said, “now an answer give to me,
How fares it with thy darksome bed and dismal company ?”

XI. “Good father,” said Rodrigo, “the snake hath touch'd me not,
Pray for me, holy Hermit, I need thy prayers, God wot ;
Because the Lord his anger keeps, I lie unharmed here ;
The sting of earthly vengeance sleeps ; a worser pain I fear.”

XII. The Eremite his breast did smite when thus he heard him say,
He turn'd him to his cell, that night he loud and long did pray ;
At morning hour he came again, then doleful moans heard he,
From out the tomb the cry did come of gnawing misery.

XIII. He spake, and heard Rodrigo’s voice ; “O Father Eremite,
He eats me now, he eats me now, I feel the adder's bite ;
The part that was most sinning my bed-fellow doth rend,
There had my curse beginning, God grant it there may end !”

XIV. The holy man made answer in words of hopeful strain,
He bade him trust the body's pang would save the spirit's pain.
Thus died the good Rodrigo, thus died the King of Spain ;
Wash'd from offence his spirit hence to God its flight hath ta'en.

The Moorish King demanded an odious tribute from his Christian vassals, that of one hundred virgins per annum. The curious modern notions about women are hardly to be found in the medieval literature, and so the role of women found in that literature is far richer than one might suspect. Here we find a young maiden demanding that her King act like a man, and not pay the tribute:
The Maiden Tribute.

I. THE noble King Ramiro within the chamber sate,
One day, with all his barons, in council and debate,
When, without leave or guidance of usher or of groom,
There came a comely maiden into the council-room.

II. She was a comely maiden she was surpassing fair.
All loose upon her shoulders hung down her golden hair ;
From head to foot her garments were white as white may be ;
And while they gazed in silence, thus in the midst spake she.

III. “Sir King, I crave your pardon, if I have done amiss
In venturing before ye, at such an hour as this ;
But I will tell my story, and when my words ye hear,
I look for praise and honour, and no rebuke I fear.

IV. “I know not if I'm bounden to call thee by the name
Of Christian, King Ramiro ; for though thou dost not claim
A heathen realm's allegiance, a heathen sure thou art,
Beneath a Spaniard's mantle thou hidest a Moorish heart.

V. “For he who gives the Moor-King a hundred maids of Spain,
Each year when in its season the day comes round again ;
If he be not a heathen, he swells the heathen's train
'Twere better burn a kingdom than suffer such disdain.

VI. “If the Moslem must have tribute, make men your tribute-money,
Send idle drones to teaze them within their hives of honey ;
For when 'tis paid with maidens, from every maid there spring
Some five or six strong soldiers, to serve the Moorish King.

VII. “It is but little wisdom to keep our men at home,
They serve but to get damsels, who, when their day is come,
Must go, like all the others, the proud Moor's bed to sleep in
In all the rest they're useless, and nowise worth the keeping.

VIII. “And if 'tis fear of battle that makes ye bow so low,
And suffer such dishonour from God our Saviour's foe,
I pray you, sirs, take warning, ye'll have as good a fright,
If e'er the Spanish damsels arise themselves to right.

IX. “'Tis we have manly courage, within the breasts of women,
But ye are all hare-hearted, both gentlemen and yeomen.”
Thus spake that fearless maiden ; I wot when she was done,
Uprose the King Ramiro and his nobles every one.

X. The King call'd God to witness, that, come there weal or woe,
Thenceforth no maiden-tribute from out Castile should go ;
“At least I will do battle on God our Saviour's foe,
And die beneath my banner before I see it so.”

XI. A cry went through the mountains when the proud Moor drew near,
And trooping to Ramiro came every Christian spear ;
The blessed Saint lago, they called upon his name ;
That day began our freedom, and wiped away our shame.

The Christians, in avoiding the tribute, did battle with the Moors; according to legend, nearing the point of defeat, Saint James the Apostle—Santiago—appeared in full battle armor and routed the Moors. No more was the tribute paid, the tide had turned, and the long reconquest of Spain commenced.
It is such a strange stratagem
That our leaders now pursue;
They court the violent Moslem,
And hold Christ in deep distain. 
Unlike good King Ramiro,
They scrape and bow with shame;
Will they undo with cunning,
What Iago did obtain?
It is difficult living under Dhimmitude. Christians must always make compromises:
The Wedding of the Lady Theresa.

I. 'TWAS when the fifth Alphonso in Leon held his sway,
King Abdalla of Toledo an embassy did send ;
He ask'd his sister for a wife, and in an evil day
Alphonso sent her, for he fear'd Abdalla to offend ;
He fear'd to move his anger, for many times before
He had received in danger much succour from that Moor.

II. Sad heart had fair Theresa when she their paction knew,
With streaming tears she heard them tell she 'mong the Moors must go,
That she, a Christian damosell, a Christian firm and true,
Must wed a Moorish husband, it well might cause her wo ;
But all her tears and all her prayers they are of small avail ;
At length she for her fate prepares, a victim sad and pale.

III. The King hath sent his sister to fair Toledo town,
Where then the Moor Abdalla his royal state did keep ;
When she drew near, the Moslem, from his golden throne, came down
And courteously received her, and bade her cease to weep ;
With loving words he press'd her, to come his bower within,
With kisses he caress'd her, but still she fear'd the sin.

IV. “Sir King, Sir King, I pray thee,” 'twas thus Theresa spake,
“I pray thee have compassion, and do to me no wrong ;
For sleep with thee I may not, unless the vows I break
Whereby I to the holy Church of Christ my Lord belong ;
But thou hast sworn to serve Mahoun, and if this thing should be,
The curse of God it must bring down upon thy realm and thee.

V. “The angel of Christ Jesu, to whom my heavenly Lord
Hath given my soul in keeping, is ever by my side ;
If thou dost me dishonour, he will unsheath his sword,
And smite thy body fiercely, at the crying of thy bride.
Invisible he standeth ; his sword, like fiery flame,
Will penetrate thy bosom, the hour that sees my shame.”

VI. The Moslem heard her with a smile ; the earnest words she said,
He took for bashful maiden's wile, and drew her to his bower.
In vain Theresa pray'd and strove she press'd Abdalla's bed,
Perforce received his kiss of love, and lost her maiden flower.
A woeful Woman there she lay, a loving lord beside,
And earnestly to God did pray her succour to provide.

VII. The Angel of Christ Jesu her sore complaint did hear,
And pluck'd his heavenly weapon from out its sheath unseen,
He waved the brand in his right hand, and to the King came near,
And drew the point o'er limb and joint, beside the weeping Queen.
A mortal weakness from the stroke upon the King did fall,
He could not stand when daylight broke, but on his knees must crawl.

VIII. Abdalla shudder'd inly, when he this sickness felt,
And call'd upon his Barons, his pillow to come nigh ;
“Rise up,” he said, “my liegemen,” as round his bed they knelt,
“And take this Christian lady, else certainly I die;
Let gold be in your girdles, and precious stones beside,
And swiftly ride to Leon, and render up my bride.”

IX. When they were come to Leon, Theresa would not go
Into her brother's dwelling, where her maiden years were spent ;
But o'er her downcast visage a white veil she did throw,
And to the ancient nunnery of Saint Pelagius went.
There long, from worldly eyes retired, a holy life she led ;
There she, an aged saint, expired—there sleeps she with the dead.

El Cid—Rodrigo Díaz de Bivar—is a great national hero of Spain. He served several rulers, and gained the admiration of all, being called El Cid—the Lord—by the Moors and El Campeador—the battle master—by the Christians.
The Cid and the Five Moorish Kings.

I. WITH fire and desolation the Moors are in Castille,
Five Moorish kings together, and all their vassals leal ;
They've pass'd in front of Burgos, through the Oca-Hills they've run,
They've plunder'd Belforado, San Domingo's harm is done

II. In Najara and Lograno there's waste and disarray :
And now with Christian captives, a very heavy prey,
With many men and women, and boys and girls beside,
In joy and exultation to their own realms they ride.

III. For neither king nor noble would dare their path to cross,
Until the good Rodrigo heard of this skaith and loss ;
In old Bivar the castle he heard the tidings told,
(He was as yet a stripling, not twenty summers old.)

IV. He mounted Bavieca, his friends he with him took,
He raised the country round him, no more such scorn to brook ;
He rode to the hills of Oca, where then the Moormen lay,
He conquer'd all the Moormen, and took from them their prey.

V. To every man had mounted he gave his part of gain,
Dispersing the much treasure the Saracens had ta'en ;
The Kings were all the booty himself had from the war,
Them led he to the castle, his strong-hold of Bivar.

VI. He brought them to his mother, proud dame that day was she :
They own'd him for their Signior, and then he set them free ;
Home went they, much commending Rodrigo of Bivar,
And sent him lordly tribute, from their Moorish realms afar.

Boldness and femininity, in the modern mind, are often strictly opposed, and one must not coexist with the other; but the Medieval heroine often combines boldness and femininity in a generally pleasing fashion, well suited to be a mate to the chivalrous gentleman. Here we find Ximena Gomez—who is featured in an earlier poem not copied here—who boldly asks for the hand of El Cid in marriage.
The Cid's Courtship.

I. Now, of Rodrigo de Bivar great was the fame that run,
How he five Kings had vanquish'd, proud Moormen every one ;
And how, when they consented to hold of him their ground,
He freed them from the prison wherein they had been bound.

II. To the good King Fernando, in Burgos where he lay,
Came then Ximena Gomez, and thus to him did say
“I am Don Gomez' daughter, in Gormaz Count was he ;
Him slew Rodrigo of Bivar in battle valiantly.

III. “Now am I come before you, this day a boon to crave
And it is that I to husband may this Rodrigo have ;
Grant this, and I shall hold me a happy damosell,
Much honour'd shall I hold me, I shall be married well.

IV. “I know he's born for thriving, none like him in the land ;
I know that none in battle against his spear may stand ;
Forgiveness is well pleasing in God our Saviour's view,
And I forgive him freely, for that my sire he slew.”

V. Right pleasing to Fernando was the thing she did propose ;
He writes his letter swiftly, and forth his foot-page goes ;
I wot, when young Rodrigo saw how the King did write,
He leapt on Bavieca—I wot his leap was light.

VI. With his own troop of true men forthwith he took the way,
Three hundred friends and kinsmen, all gently born were they ;
All in one colour mantled, in armour gleaming gay,
New were both scarf and scabbard, when they went forth that day.

VII. The King came out to meet him, with words of hearty cheer ;
Quoth he, “My good Rodrigo, you are right welcome here ;
This girl Ximena Gomez would have ye for her lord,
Already for the slaughter her grace she doth accord.

VIII. “I pray you be consenting, my gladness will be great ;
You shall have lands in plenty, to strengthen your estate.”
“Lord King,” Rodrigo answers, “in this and all beside,
Command, and I'll obey you. The girl shall be my bride.”

IX. But when the fair Ximena came forth to plight her hand,
Rodrigo, gazing on her, his face could not command :
He stood and blush'd before her ; thus at the last said he
“I slew thy sire, Ximena, but not in villainy :

X. “In no disguise I slew him, man against man I stood ;
There was some wrong between us, and I did shed his blood.
I slew a man, I owe a man ; fair lady, by God's grace,
An honour’d husband thou shalt have in thy dead father’s place.”
This poem shows the Christian character of El Cid:
The Cid and the Leper.

I. HE has ta'en some twenty gentlemen, along with him to go,
For he will pay that ancient vow he to Saint James doth owe ;
To Compostello, where the shrine doth by the altar stand,
The good Rodrigo de Bivar is riding through the land.

II. Where'er he goes, much alms he throws, to feeble folk and poor ;
Beside the way for him they pray, him blessings to procure ;
For, God and Mary Mother, their heavenly grace to win,
His hand was ever bountiful : great was his joy therein.

III. And there, in middle of the path, a leper did appear ;
In a deep slough the leper lay, none would to help come near.
With a loud voice he thence did cry, “For God our Saviour's sake,
From out this fearful jeopardy a Christian brother take.”

IV. When Roderick heard that piteous word, he from his horse came down ;
For all they said, no stay he made, that noble champion ;
He reach'd his hand to pluck him forth, of fear was no account,
Then mounted on his steed of worth, and made the leper mount.

V. Behind him rode the leprous man ; when to their hostelrie
They came, he made him eat with him at table cheerfully ;
While all the rest from that poor guest with loathing shrunk away,
To his own bed the wretch he led, beside him there he lay.

VI. All at the mid-hour of the night, while good Rodrigo slept,
A breath came from the leprous man, it through his shoulders crept ;
Right through the body, at the breast, pass'd forth that breathing cold;
I wot he leap'd up with a start, in terrors manifold.

VII. He groped for him in the bed, but him he could not find,
Through the dark chamber groped he, with very anxious mind ;
Loudly he lifted up his voice, with speed a lamp was brought,
Yet nowhere was the leper seen, though far and near they sought.

VIII. He turn'd him to his chamber, God wot, perplexed sore
With that which had befallen—when lo ! his face before,
There stood a man, all clothed in vesture shining white :
Thus said the vision, “Sleepest thou, or wakest thou, Sir Knight ?”

IX. “I sleep not,” quoth Rodrigo ; “but tell me who art thou,
For, in the midst of darkness, much light is on thy brow ?”
“I am the holy Lazarus, I come to speak with thee ;
I am the same poor leper thou savedst for charity.

X. “Not vain the trial, nor in vain thy victory hath been ;
God favours thee, for that my pain thou didst relieve yestreen.
There shall be honour with thee, in battle and in peace,
Success in all thy doings, and plentiful increase.

XI. “Strong enemies shall not prevail, thy greatness to undo ;
Thy name shall make men’s cheeks full pale—Christians and Moslems too ;
A death of honour shalt thou die, such grace to thee is given,
Thy soul shall part victoriously, and be received in heaven.”

XII. When he these gracious words had said, the spirit vanish'd quite.
Rodrigo rose and knelt him down—he knelt till morning light ;
Unto the Heavenly Father, and Mary Mother dear,
He made his prayer right humbly, till dawn'd the morning clear.

A poem where El Cid and the Holy Father the Pope both make a mistake—but all is forgiven:
The Excommunication of The Cid.

I. IT was when from Spain across the main the Cid had come to Rome,
He chanced to see chairs four and three beneath Saint Peter's dome.
“Now tell, I pray, what chairs be they ?” “Seven kings do sit thereon,
As well doth suit, all at the foot of the holy Father's throne.

II. “The Pope he sitteth above them all, that they may kiss his toe,
Below the keys the Flower-de-lys doth make a gallant show ;
For his great puissance, the King of France next to the Pope may sit,
The rest more low, all in a row, as doth their station fit.”

III. “Ha !” quoth the Cid, “now God forbid ! it is a shame, I wiss,
To see the Castle planted beneath the Flower-de-lys
No harm, I hope, good Father Pope although I move thy chair.”
In pieces small he kick'd it all, ('twas of the ivory fair.)

IV. The Pope's own seat he from his feet did kick it far away,
And the Spanish chair he planted upon its place that day ;
Above them all he planted it, and laugh'd right bitterly ;
Looks sour and bad I trow he had, as grim as grim might be.

V. Now when the Pope was aware of this, he was an angry man,
His lips that night, with solemn rite, pronounced the awful ban ;
The curse of God, who died on rood, was on that sinner's head
To hell and woe man's soul must go if once that curse be said,

VI. I wot, when the Cid was aware of this, a woeful man was he,
At dawn of day he came to pray at the blessed Father's knee :
“Absolve me, blessed Father, have pity upon me,
Absolve my soul, and penance I for my sin will dree.”

VII. “Who is this sinner,” quoth the Pope, “that at my foot doth kneel ?”
—“I am Rodrigo Diaz—a poor Baron of Castille.”—
Much marvell'd all were in the hall, when that name they heard him say,
—“Rise up, rise up,” the Pope he said, “I do thy guilt away ;—

VIII. “I do thy guilt away,” he said — “and my curse I blot it out—
God save Rodrigo Diaz, my Christian champion stout ; —
I trow, if I had known thee, my grief it had been sore,
To curse Ruy Diaz de Bivar, God’s scourge upon the Moor.”— 

Our selection of historical poems starts with the conquest of Spain by the Moors, while this last one describes the Christian reconquest of Spain. Please note that while these poems point out religious differences, the Moors are always depicted as being noble. It is not good that Christians are ruled by Moslems, and indeed the Holy Catholic faith is superior, but this is not seen as impugning on the character of the Moors, for are they not too made in the Image and Likeness of God? Demonization and hatred of enemies, and racism and bigotry are the products of modernism.
The Flight From Granada.

I. THERE was crying in Granada when the sun was going down,
Some calling on the Trinity, some calling on Mahoun ;
Here pass'd away the Koran, there in the Cross was borne,
And here was heard the Christian bell, and there the Moorish horn ;

II. Te Deum Laudamus was up the Alcala sung :
Down from the Alhamra's minarets were all the crescents flung ;
The arms thereon of Arragon they with Castille's display ;
One king comes in triumph, one weeping goes away.

III. Thus cried the weeper, while his hands his old white beard did tear,
“Farewell, farewell, Granada ! thou city without peer ;
Woe, woe, thou pride of Heathendom, seven hundred years and more
Have gone since first the faithful thy royal sceptre bore.

IV. “Thou wert the happy mother of an high renowned race ;
Within thee dwelt a haughty line that now go from their place ;
Within thee fearless knights did dwell, who fought with mickle glee-
The enemies of proud Castille, the bane of Christientie.

V. “The mother of fair dames wert thou, of truth and beauty rare,
Into whose arm's did courteous knights for solace sweet repair ;
For whose dear sakes the gallants of Afric made display
Of might in joust and battle on many a bloody day :

VI. “Here gallants held it little thing for ladies' sake to die,
Or for the Prophet's honour, and pride of Soldanry ;
For here did valour flourish, and deeds of warlike might
Ennobled lordly palaces, in which was our delight.

VII. “The gardens of thy Vega, its fields and blooming bowers
Woe, woe ! I see their beauty gone, and scatter'd all their flowers.
No reverence can he claim the King that such a land hath lost,
On charger never can he ride, nor be heard among the host
But in some dark and dismal place, where none his face may see,
There, weeping and lamenting, alone that King should be.”

VIII. Thus spake Granada's King as he was riding to the sea,
About to cross Gibraltar's Strait away to Barbary :
Thus he in heaviness of soul unto his Queen did cry.
(He had stopp'd and ta'en her in his arms, for together they did fly.)

IX. “Unhappy King ! whose craven soul can brook" (she 'gan reply,)
“To leave behind Granada, who hast not heart to die
Now for the love I bore thy youth thee gladly could I slay,
For what is life to leave when such a crown is cast away ?”

The book includes a number of Moorish poems, including this one about bull fighting:
The Bull-Fight Of Ganzul.

I. KING ALMANZOR of Grenada, he hath bid the trumpet sound,
He had summon'd all the Moorish Lords, from the hills and plains around ;
From Vega and Sierra, from Betis and Xenil,
They have come with helm and cuirass of gold and twisted steel.

II. Tis the holy Baptist's feast they hold in royalty and state,
And they have closed the spacious lists, beside the Alhamra's gate ;
In gowns of black with silver laced within the tented ring,
Eight Moors to fight the bull are placed in presence of the King.

III. Eight Moorish lords of valour tried, with stalwart arm and true,
The onset of the beasts abide come trooping furious through ;
The deeds they've done, the spoils they've won, fill all with hope and trust,
Yet ere high in heaven appears the sun, they all have bit the dust.

IV. Then sounds the trumpet clearly, then clangs the loud tambour,
Make room, make room for Ganzul—throw wide, throw wide the door ;
Blow, blow the trumpet clearer still, more loudly strike the drum,
The Alcaydé of Agalva to fight the bull doth come.

V. And first before the King he pass'd, with reverence stooping low,
And next he bow'd him to the Queen, and the Infantas all a-rowe ;
Then to his lady's grace he turn'd, and she to him did throw
A scarf from out her balcony was whiter than the snow.

VI. With the life-blood of the slaughter'd lords all slippery is the sand,
Yet proudly in the centre hath Ganzul ta'en his stand ;
And ladies look with heaving breast, and lords with anxious eye,
But the lance is firmly in its rest, and his look is calm and high.

VII. Three bulls against the knight are loosed, and two come roaring on,
He rises high in stirrup, forth stretching his rejon ;
Each furious beast upon the breast he deals him such a blow,
He blindly totters and gives back across the sand to go.

VIII. “Turn, Ganzul, turn,” the people cry—the third comes up behind,
Low to the sand his head holds he, his nostrils snuff the wind ;
The mountaineers that lead the steers, without stand whispering low,
“Now thinks this proud Alcaydé to stun Harpado so ?”

IX. From Guadiana comes he not, he comes not from Xenil,
From Guadalarif of the plain, or Barves of the hill ;
But where from out the forest burst Xarama's waters clear,
Beneath the oak trees was he nursed, this proud and stately steer.

X. Dark is his hide on either side, but the blood within doth boil,
And the dun hide glows, as if on fire, as he paws to the turmoil.
His eyes are jet, and they are set in crystal rings of snow ;
But now they stare with one red glare of brass upon the foe.

XI. Upon the forehead of the bull the horns stand close and near,
From out the broad and wrinkled skull, like daggers they appear ;
His neck is massy, like the trunk of some old knotted tree,
Whereon the monster's shagged mane, like billows curl'd, ye see.

XII. His legs are short, his hams are thick, his hoofs are black as night,
Like a strong flail he holds his tail in fierceness of his might ;
Like something molten out of iron, or hewn from forth the rock,
Harpado of Xarama stands, to bide the Alcaydé's shock.

XIII. Now stops the drum—close, close they come—thrice meet, and thrice give back ;
The white foam of Harpado lies on the charger's breast of black
The white foam of the charger on Harpado’s front of dun—
Once more advance upon his lance—once more, thou fearless one !

XIV. Once more, once more ;—in dust and gore to ruin must thou reel—
In vain, in vain thou tearest the sand with furious heel—
In vain, in vain, thou noble beast, I see, I see thee stagger,
Now keen and cold thy neck must hold the stern Alcaydé's dagger !

XV. They have slipp'd a noose around his feet, six horses are brought in,
And away they drag Harpado with a loud and joyful din.—
Now stoop thee, lady, from thy stand, and the ring of price bestow
Upon Ganzul of Agalva, that hath laid Harpado low.

Following are two romantic ballads:


I. AT Sansueña, in the tower, fair Melisendra lies,
Her heart is far away in France, and tears are in her eyes ;
The twilight shade is thickening laid on Sansueña's plain,
Yet wistfully the lady her weary eyes doth strain.

II. She gazes from the dungeon strong, forth on the road to Paris,
Weeping, and wondering why so long her Lord Gayferos tarries,
When lo ! a knight appears in view a knight of Christian mien,
Upon a milk-white charger he rides the elms between.

III. She from her window reaches forth her hand a sign to make,
“O if you be a knight of worth, draw near for mercy's sake ;
For mercy and sweet charity, draw near, Sir Knight to me,
And tell me if ye ride to France, or whither bowne ye be.

IV. “O, if ye be a Christian knight, and if to France you go,
I pr'ythee tell Guyferos that you have seen my woe ;
That you have seen me weeping, here in the Moorish tower,
While he is gay by night and day, in hall and lady's bower.

V. “Seven summers have I waited, seven winters long are spent,
Yet word of comfort none he speaks, nor token hath he sent ;
And if he is weary of my love, and would have me wed a stranger,
Still say his love is true to him nor time nor wrong can change her.”

VI. The knight on stirrup rising, bids her wipe her tears away,
“My love, no time for weeping, no peril save delay
Come, boldly spring, and lightly leap no listening Moor is near us,
And by dawn of day we’ll be far away” so spake the Knight Guyferos.

VII. She hath made the sign of the Cross divine, and an Ave she hath said,
And she dares the leap both wide and deep that damsel without dread ;
And he hath kiss'd her pale pale cheek, and lifted her behind,
Saint Denis speed the milk-white steed no Moor their path shall find.

Lady Alda's Dream.

I. IN Paris sits the lady that shall be Sir Roland's bride,
Three hundred damsels with her, her bidding to abide ;
All clothed in the same fashion, both the mantle and the shoon
All eating at one table, within her hall at noon :
All, save the Lady Alda, she is lady of them all,
She keeps her place upon the dais, and they serve her in her hall ;
The thread of gold a hundred spin, the lawn a hundred weave,
And a hundred play sweet melody within Alda's bower at eve.

II. With the sound of their sweet playing, the lady falls asleep,
And she dreams a doleful dream, and her damsels hear her weep ;
There is sorrow in her slumber, and she waketh with a cry,
And she calleth for her damsels, and swiftly they come nigh.
“ Now, what is it, Lady Alda,” (you may hear the words they say,)
“Bringeth sorrow to thy pillow, and chaseth sleep away ?”
“O, my maidens !” quoth the lady, “my heart it is full sore !
I have dreamt a dream of evil, and can slumber never more.

III. “For I was upon a mountain, in a bare and desert place,
And I saw a mighty eagle, and a faulcon he did chase ;
And to me the faulcon came, and I hid it in my breast,
But the mighty bird, pursuing, came and rent away my vest ;
And he scatter'd all the feathers, and blood was on his beak,
And ever, as he tore and tore, I heard the faulcon shriek :
Now read my vision, damsels, now read my dream to me,
For my heart may well be heavy that doleful sight to see.”

IV. Out spake the foremost damsel was in her chamber there
(You may hear the words she says,) “Oh ! my lady's dream is fair
The mountain is St Denis' choir ; and thou the faulcon art,
And the eagle strong that teareth the garment from thy heart,
And scattereth the feathers, he is the Paladin
That, when again he comes from Spain, must sleep thy bower within ;
Then be blythe of cheer, my lady, for the dream thou must not grieve,
It means but that thy bridegroom shall come to thee at eve.”

V. “If thou hast read my vision, and read it cunningly”
Thus said the Lady Alda, “thou shalt not lack thy fee.”
But wo is me for Alda ! there was heard, at morning hour,
A voice of lamentation within that lady's bower ;
For there had come to Paris a messenger by night,
And his horse it was a-weary, and his visage it was white ;
And there's weeping in the chamber, and there's silence in the hall,
For Sir Roland has been slaughter'd, in the chase of Roncesval.
Christians and Moors alike celebrated the feast-day of Saint John the Baptist. Although our translator rejects the following as barbarous superstition, shouldn't we sanctify the year by celebrating the great Saints? Shouldn't we ask for God's blessings and the intercession of the Saints?

Song for the morning of the Day of St. John the Baptist.

COME forth, come forth, my maidens, 'tis the day of good St John,
It is the Baptist's morning that breaks the hills upon,
And let us all go forth together, while the blessed day is new,
To dress with flowers the snow-white wether, ere the sun has dried the dew.

Come forth, come forth, my maidens, the woodlands all are green,
And the little birds are singing the opening leaves between,
And let us all go forth together, to gather trefoil by the stream,
Ere the face of Guadalquiver glows beneath the strengthening beam.

Come forth, come forth, my maidens, and slumber not away
The blessed blessed morning of the holy Baptist's day ;
There's trefoil on the meadow, and lilies on the lee,
And hawthorn blossoms on the bush, which you must pluck with me.

Come forth, come forth, my maidens, the air is calm and cool,
And the violet blue far down ye'll view, reflected in the pool ;
The violets and the roses, and the jasmines all together,
We'll bind in garlands on the brow of the strong and lovely wether.

Come forth, come forth, my maidens, we'll gather myrtle boughs,
And we all shall learn from the dews of the fern, if our lads will keep their vows.
If the wether be still, as we dance on the hill, and the dew hangs sweet on the flowers,
Then we'll kiss off the dew, for our lovers are true, and the Baptist's blessing is ours.

It is the Baptist's morning that breaks the hills upon ;
And let us all go forth together, while the blessed day is new,
To dress with flowers the snow-white wether, ere the sun has dried the dew.
Here are two ballads of loves who were lost:


I. “OFF ! off! ye hounds ! in madness an ill death be your doom !
The boar ye kill'd on Thursday on Friday ye consume !
Aye me ! and it is now seven years I in this valley go ;
Barefoot I wander, and the blood from out my nails doth flow.

II. “I eat the raw flesh of the boar, I drink his red blood here,
Seeking, with heavy heart and sore, my Princess and my dear.
'Twas on the Baptist's morning the Moors my Princess found,
While she was gathering roses upon her father’s ground.”

III. Fair Juliana heard his voice where by the Moor she lay,
Even in the Moor's encircling arms she heard what he did say ;
The lady listen'd, and she wept within that guarded place,
While her Moor Lord beside her slept the tears fell on his face.


I. MY heart was happy when I turn'd from Burgos to Valladolid ;
My heart that day was light and gay, it bounded like a kid.
I met a Palmer on the way, my horse he bade me rein
“I left Valladolid to-day, I bring thee news of pain !
The lady-love whom thou dost seek in gladness and in cheer,
Closed is her eye, and cold her cheek, I saw her on her bier.

II. “The Priests went singing of the Mass, my voice their song did aid ;
A hundred knights with them did pass to the burial of the Maid ;
And damsels fair went weeping there, and many a one did say,
Poor Cavalier ! he is not here ’tis well he’s far away.”
I fell when thus I heard him speak, upon the dust I lay,
I thought my heart would surely break, I wept for half a day.

III. When evening came I rose again, the Palmer held my steed.
And swiftly rode I o'er the plain to dark Valladolid.
I came unto the sepulchre where they my love had laid,
I bow'd me down beside the bier, and there my moan I made :
“O take me, take me to thy bed, I fain would sleep with thee !
My love is dead, my hope is fled, there is no joy for me !”

IV. I heard a sweet voice from the tomb, I heard her voice so clear,
“Rise up, rise up, my knightly love, thy weeping well I hear ;
Rise up and leave this darksome place, it is no place for thee,
God yet will send thee helpful grace, in love and chivalry ;
Though in the grave my bed I have, for thee my heart is sore,
’Twill ease my heart if thou depart thy peace may God restore !”
Modernist fiction gives us more facts, but at the expense of the heart and wisdom, while its emphasis on psychology is invariably a justification for lack of virtue. The old ballads still have value, on several levels of meaning.