1. Medieval Mystical Poetry & Poets

    Medieval Mystics and their prolific quotations, poetry, literature and exegesis’ form an integral manifestation of the human endeavor to be One with the Divine. Classical poetry as we have learned was originally derived from the Greek/Roman Empires and often associated with the Greek mythology of the age we know as antiquity. Sometime during the Post-Classical era world literature depending upon geographical locale embraced a magnanimous perspective on the mystical world of monasticism; from the early age of the Church of the Western world to the era we sometimes refer to as the Middle Ages, has brought forth some of the greatest works of self expressive literature, poetry, and letters the world of humanity has accomplished.

    The Inquisition

    The Dark Ages as was relevant to the Inquisition (thus the name Dark Ages) gave way to an inherently wicked and iniquitous side of humankind–a holocaust of Jews, women, and anyone who did not agree with the alleged proper authorities, namely the Church during this era of severe traumatic tribulation for those of whom were considered completely innocent by the truly faithful. The truly ironic speculation was that one was forced, at the hands of being punished through torture, burning at the stake, and death to prove innocence. It was believed during this period that if an individual was accused of heresy against the Church, or blasphemy, any wrong doing whatsoever, these poor souls paid the price.

    The Inquisition was perpetuated by the Church’s Pope Innocent III (1198-1216); ironically, his given Papal name was Innocent. The Inquisition continued with Pope Gregory IX in the year 1233. Pope Gregory argued the Abilgenses–a religious sect from France–were heretics and sought to continue the Church’s position against all forms of heresy. Two decades later, the Inquisition now reaching full momentum in Europe, with the exceptions of Scandinavia and England, was now sentencing thousands of innocent people most of whom are speculated to be women, to unreasonable questioning by an Act of Faith. A clergyman would hear the case and allocate punishments to the accused, such as prison, burning at the stake, torture, and abuse. When the Inquisition reached Spain in 1481, it was at its worst.

    Poetry In The Dark Ages

    It is history and the repetition of adversity against humankind that ultimately may leave its sacred scars on the face of mankind yet not without hope. For out of the ominous wrong-doing of this era rises–from the punitive ashes of the hands of iniquitous men–a Divine grace that potentially evolves through the soul as a literary spiritual wildfire, which has been ignited and handed over once again to those who truly inherit the earth: the faithful.

    A classic example may be Hildegard von Bingen (1089-1179), a Rhine River Valley medieval author and German mystic. Through much of Hildegard’s poetry, letters, and literature, and other classical examples of Hildegard, we discover that she may have written poetry in reference to this period of time which must have existed an atmosphere of contention from within the hierarchical office of Rome even before Pope Innocent III was voted into the Papacy. Something of an adverse nature had to be taking place for Hildegard to have written the following:

    “But although I heard and saw these things, because of doubt and low opinion of myself and because of diverse sayings of men, I refused for a long time a call to write, not out of stubbornness but out of humility, until weighed down by a scourge of god, I fell onto a bed of sickness.”

    Hildegard apparently understood the seeds of depth hidden within her heart and soul through a spiritual witness to the adversity of her time. Perhaps if she lived during the mindset of the Inquisition attitudes would have adjusted her writing to reflect as of such.  Another of her nice reflections was:


    No creature has meaning

    without the Word of God.

    God’s Word is in all creation, visible and invisible.

    The Word is living, being,

    Spirit, all verdant greening,

    all creativity.

    This Word flashes out in

    every creature.

    This is how the spirit is in

    The flesh-the Word is indivisible from God.


    According to the Britannica Concise Encyclopedia (cited in Answers.com in an on-line review), Hildegard was allowed to write Scivias from 1141 to 1152. This literary work was an accomplishment of recording 26 prophetic, symbolic, and apocalyptic visions and she became understood to be “Sibyl of the Rhine,” sought out by prominently authoritative figures of her day.


    She also wrote “Symphonia armonie celestium revelationum,” containing over 70 lyrical pieces of poetry with monophonic melodies. This was a form of notation necessary for the Gregorian Chants of Gregory’s papacy to be recorded, allowing the monks who sang, to be aware of the melodic rhythm and tone singing of praises to Our Lord.


    Hildegard von Bingen was in fact a medieval prophet, healer, and composer of the people who had ecstatic interior visions (though never canonized), since she was a child to just before she entered the religious duties of the monastic community of the faithful during her valued life. One only has to read through her beautiful heart and spirit filled poetry and books to come to an educated understanding her vocation as a mystical poet is of certain worthy values, especially amongst the women of her day, as well as the present.

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