Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Tuesday's Poetry Comment: Soliloquy Of The Spanish Cloister, by Robert Browning

This is, by far, my favorite poem. I first read it as a student at LeMoyne College -- when I was living in my third convent. I could totally understand the narrator's loathing of the pompous and annoying Brother Lawrence. All of the latter's attention and affection were reserved for his ministry (in this case, gardening) and none for the things the narrator valued, like community and following what I call the "holy affectations" at meal time:

When he finishes refection,
Knife and fork he never lays
Cross-wise, to my recollection,
As do I, in Jesu's praise.
I the Trinity illustrate,
Drinking watered orange-pulp---
In three sips the Arian frustrate;
While he drains his at one gulp.

My own experiences is that people living in religious community often have an elevated opinion of whatever it is they do and their motivations for doing those things. Both the narrator and Brother Lawrence are perfect examples of this.


  1. Actually, when I was thinking of doing a Tuesday poetry thing, I was thinking of you and your blog! I know you like poetry, as do I!