Sunday, February 15, 2015

Through the Glass Window Shines the Sun: an Anthology of Medieval Poetry and Prose edited by Pamela Norris

This is a little gem of a book that I got through Paperback Swap.  As I've mentioned before that is a site that allows people to trade books on an honor system.  

Not all the books are paperback, and while some of the books I've received have obviously been used, many of them arrive in mint condition.  Through The Glass Window is a hardcover and in excellent condition.  

Pamela Norris, the editor, specialized in Medieval Literature at Bristol University and has a master's degree in Renaissance Studies.  She compiled excerpts from many medieval books and also a great deal of contemporary art.  Each page contains either a poem or excerpt from a story or legend with a painting on the page next to it.  

Authors include Henry Howard, Earl of Surrey, Sir Thomas Wyatt, Geoffrey Chaucer, Giovanni Boccaccio, Sir John Mandeville, Margery Kempe Sir Thomas Malory.    A good half of the poems are by that ever famous author, Anonymous.

The book is divided into four sections.  The first is devoted to "The Queen of Heaven", Mary the mother of Jesus.  The second is about earthly love between men and women.  The third section are writings about life during times of peace and during times of war and the last is titled "Marvelous Tales". 

That really sums up this book.  If you are a fan of this time period, it's a delightful little book to own and enjoy.

I'll include one poem of each section with the painting accompanying the poem.

I Sing of a Maiden

I sing of a maiden
That is matchless:
King of all kings
To be her son she chose.

He came also still Where his mother was,
As dew in April 
That falleth on the grass.

Mother and maiden 
Was never none but she:
Well may such a lady
God's mother be.

The Bride's Song

The maidens came
When I was in my mother's bower.
I had all that I would.
The bailey berath the bell away;
The lily, the rose, the rose I lay.

And through the glass window shines the sun.
How should I love, and I so young:  
The bailey beareth the bell away;
The lily, the rose, the rose I lay.


A Song for St. George

Enforce we us with all our might
To love Saint George, our Lady's knight.

Worship of virtue is the meed, 
Ad follow him ay of right;
To worship George the have we need,
Which is our sovereign Lady's knight.

In his virtue he will us lead
Against the Fiend, the foul wight,
And with his banner us over spread,
If we him love with all our might.


Jerome and the Lion

One day towards evening, as Jerome sat with his brethren listening to the holy lesson, suddenly a lion came limping into the monastery.  When the brethren saw him, at once they fled, but Jerome went towards the lion as he would approach a guest, an then the lion showed him his foot, which was hurt.  Then Jerome called his brethren and commanded them to wash the lion's feet and carefully to seek out and search for the wound.  That done, they found that the pad of the lion's foot was sorely hurt and pricked with a thorn.  Then this holy man set himself diligently to cure the foot and healed him and the lion abode ever after as a tame bast with them.

From Jacobus de Voragine, The Golden Legend


  1. Thanks for posting this verse Sharon. I really like these poems. I think that they can tell us a lot about the period plus they are very pleasing.

    I think that I would enjoy this.

    Though I do not devote enough reading time to this period, I would like to call myself a fan of it.

    1. Thanks, Brian. I probably should have posted on Valentine's Day but I'm a creature of habit.
      I also really enjoy the art and literature of that time period. I'm currently reading three books on knight hood and Arthurian legend.

  2. Replies
    1. Hi Leona. Yes it is. I think that's called serendipity. Have a good day!

  3. How lovely! I am definitely a fan of the period and one of the reasons is that so little is known about it. My guess is that "anonymous" is all too often a woman!

    1. HI Brandy! I am also a huge fan of this time period. I don't know if I'd actually like to live then but I like fantasizing about it. Have a great day!

  4. This book looks just lovely! What a find, and thanks for sharing some of the poetry. I'll have to keep an eye out for it!

    1. Hi Cleopatra! This is a lovely book. Especially if you love Medieval/ Renaissance poetry and paintings. I found the book by accident so truly a case of serendipity. Have a blessed week!


I welcome comments from anyone with a mutual interest in the subjects I written about.