thrown fire
in law














Two photos of the sun taken by the US military. Thanks to Kate Fagan for these images.



Modo frigescit quidquid est,
sed solus ego caleo;
immo sic mihi cordi est,
quod ardeo;
hic ignis tamen virgo est,
qua langueo.

Nutritur ignis asculo
et leni tactu virginis;
in suo lucet oculo
lux luminis,
nec est in toto seculo
plus numinis.

Ignis grecus extinguitur
cum vino iam cerrimo;
sed iste non extinguitur
immo fomento alitur

The world freezes around me, who alone am burning; in my immolated heart is this fire, flame of the virgin, my desire.

This fire is fed by her kiss, by the mild touch of the virgin; in her eye blazes the light of the light, and the whole of heaven nods her head.

Greek fire is smothered by bitter wine, but not my misery: it is an altogether different poison.








Helen Waddell, Medieval Latin Lyrics (Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1929) 286-9. My translation.



Petrarch, Rime sparse 185 

Questa fenice de l'aurata piuma
al suo bel collo candido gentile
forma senz' arte un si caro monile
ch' ogni cor addolcisce e 'l mio consuma;

forma un diadema natural ch'alluma
l'aere dintorno, et 'l tacito focile
d'Amor tragge indi un liquido sottile
foco che m'arde a la piu algente bruma.

Purpurea vesta d'un ceruleo lembo
sparso di rose i belli omeri vela,
novo abito et bellezza unica et sola!

Fama ne l'odorato et ricco grembo
d'arabi monti lei ripone et cela,
che per lo nostro cel si altera vola.

With the gilded feathers around her noble white neck this phoenix forms without art so dear a necklace that it sweetens every heart and consumes mine;

she forms a natural diadem that lights the air around, and the silent flint of Love draws from it a subtle liquid fire that burns me in the coldest frost.

A scarlet dress with cerulean border sprinkled with roses veils her lovely shoulders: a new garment and unique beauty.

Fame puts her away and hides her in the fragrant rich bosom of the Arabian mountains, but she flies haughty through our own skies. (trans. Robert Durling.)





Ancrene Wisse or the "Anchoresses' Guide"

Grickisch fur is i-maket of reades monnes blod, ant thet ne mei na thing bute migge ant sond ant eisil - as me seith - acwenchen. This Grickisch fur is the luve of Jesu ure Laverd, ant ye hit schule makien of reade monnes blod - thet is, Jesu Crist i-readet with his ahne blod o the deore rode - ant wes inread cundeliche alswa, as me weneth. This blod, for ow i-sched up-o the earre twa treon, schal makien ow Sareptiens - thet is, ontende mid tis Grickisch fur, thet as Salomon seith, nane weattres - thet beoth worldliche tribulatiuns, nane temptatiuns, nowther inre ne uttre - ne mahen this luve acwenchen. Nu nis thenne on ende bute witen ow warliche with al thet hit acwencheth - thet beoth migge, ant sond, ant eisil, as ich ear seide. Migge is stench of sunne. O sond ne groweth na god ant bitacneth idel. Idel akeldeth ant acwencheth this fur. Sturieth ow cwicliche aa i gode werkes ant thet schal heaten ow ant ontenden this fur ayein the brune of sunne. For alswa as the an neil driveth ut then other, alswa the brune of Godes luve driveth brune of ful luve ut of the heorte. The thridde thing is eisil - thet is, sur heorte of nith other of onde. Understondeth this word: tha the nithfule Giws offreden ure Laverd this sure present up-o the rode, tha seide he thet reowthfule word, Consumatum est. "Neaver," quoth he, "ear nu nes ich ful pinet," nawt thurh thet eisil, ah thurh hare ondfule nith thet tet eisil bitacnede thet heo him duden drinken, ant is i-lich as thah a mon thet hefde longe i-swunken, ant failede efter long swinc on ende of his hure. Alswa ure Laverd mare then twa ant thritti yer tilede efter hare luve, ant for al his sare swinc ne wilnede na thing bute luve to hure. Ah i the ende of his lif, thet wes as i the even-tid hwen me yelt werc-men hare deies hure, loke hu ha yulden him: for piment of huni luve, eisil of sur nith ant galle of bitter onde! "O," quoth ure Laverd tha, Consumatum est. "Al mi swinc on eorthe, al mi pine o rode ne sweameth ne ne derveth me na-wiht ayein this - thet ich thus biteo al thet ich i-don habbe. This eisil thet ye beodeth me, this sure hure thurhfulleth mi pine." This eisil of sur heorte ant of bitter thonc over alle othre thing acwencheth Grickisch fur - thet is, the luve of ure Laverd - ant hwa-se hit bereth i breoste toward wummon other mon, ha is Giwes make. Ha offreth Godd this eisil ant thurhfulleth onont hire Jesues pine o rode. Me warpeth Grickisch fur upon his fa-men ant swa me overkimeth ham. Ye schule don alswa hwen Godd areareth ow of ei va eani weorre. Hu ye hit schule warpen Salomon teacheth: Si esurierit inimicus tuus, ciba illum; si sitierit, potum da illi. Sic enim carbones ardentes congeres super caput ejus - thet is, "yef thi fa hungreth, fed him. To his thurst, yef him drunch." Thet is to understonden, yef he efter thin hearm haveth hunger other thurst, yef him fode of thine beoden thet Godd do him are. Yef him drunch of teares. Wep for his sunnen. "Thus thu schalt," seith Salomon, "rukelin on his heaved bearninde gleden" - thet is to seggen, thus thu schalt ontenden his heorte for-te luvie the. For heorte is in Hali Writ bi heaved understonden. O thulli wise wule Godd seggen ed te dome: "Hwi luvedest tu the mon other the wummon?" "Sire, ha luveden me!" "Ye," he wule seggen, "thu yulde thet tu ahtest. Her nabbe ich the nawt muches to yelden." Yef thu maht ondswerien, "alle wa ha duden me, ne na luve ne ahte ich ham, ah, sire, ich luvede ham for thi luve" - thet luve he ah the, for hit wes i-yeven him ant he hit wule the yelden. Migge - as ich seide - thet acwencheth Grickisch fur, is stinkinde flesches luve, the acwencheth gastelich luve, thet Grickisch fur bitacneth. Hweat flesch wes on eorthe se swete ant se hali as wes Jesu Cristes flesch? Ant thah he seide him-seolf to his deore deciples, Nisi ego abiero, paraclitus non veniet ad vos. Thet is, "Bute ich parti from ow, the Hali Gast - thet is, min ant mines feaderes luve - ne mei nawt cumen to ow. Ah hwen ich beo from ow, ich chulle senden him ow." Hwen Jesu Cristes ahne deciples, hwil thet ha fleschliche luveden him, neh ham foreoden the swetnesse of the Hali Gast, ne ne mahte nawt habben bathe togederes. Demeth ow-seolven: nis he wod, other heo, the luveth to swithe hire ahne flesch, other eani mon fleschliche swa thet ha yirne to swithe his sihthe other his speche? Ne thunche hire neaver wunder yef hire wonti the Hali Gastes frovre. Cheose nu euch-an of thes twa - eorthlich elne ant heovenlich - to hwether ha wule halden, for thet other ha mot leten. For i the tweire monglunge, ne mei ha habben neaver mare schirnesse of heorte - thet is, as we seiden ear, thet god ant te strengthe of alle religiuns ant in euch ordre. Luve maketh hire schir, grithful ant cleane. Luve haveth a meistrie bivoren alle othre; for al thet ha rineth, al ha turneth to hire, ant maketh al hire ahne. Quemcumque locum calcaverit pes vester - pes videlicet amoris - vester erit. Deore walde moni mon buggen a swuch thing, thet al thet he rine to, al were his ahne. Ant ne seide hit th'ruppe feor, ane thurh thet tu luvest thet god thet is in an-other, with the rinunge of thi luve thu makest withuten other swinc his god thin ahne god, as Sein Gregoire witneth? Lokith nu hu muchel god the ontfule leoseth. Streche thi luve to Jesu Crist, thu havest him i-wunnen. Rin him with ase muche luve as thu havest sum mon sum-chearre, he is thin to don with al thet tu wilnest. Ah hwa luveth thing thet leaveth hit for leasse then hit is wurth? Nis Godd betere unevenlich then al thet is i the world? Chearite is cherte of leof thing ant of deore. Undeore he maketh Godd ant to unwurth mid alle, thet for ei worltlich thing of his luve leasketh, for na thing ne con luvien riht, bute he ane. Swa overswithe he luveth luve, thet he maketh hire his evening. Yet ich dear segge mare - he maketh hire his meistre ant deth al thet ha hat as thah he moste nede. Mei ich pruvien this? Ye, witerliche ich, bi his ahne wordes, for thus he speketh to Moyses the monne meast him luvede: In Numeri: Dimisi juxta verbum tuum, non dicit preces. "Ich hefde," quoth he, "i-munt to wreoke mine wreaththe i this folc. Ah thu seist I ne schal nawt. Thi word beo i-forthet." Me seith thet luve bindeth; witerliche luve bint swa ure Laverd thet he ne mei na thing don bute thurh luves leave. Nu preove her-of, for hit thuncheth wunder. Ysaias: Domine, non est qui consurgat et teneat te. "Laverd, thu wult smiten," seith Ysaie. "Wei-la-wei! Thu maht wel - nis nan thet te halde," as thah he seide, "yef ei luvede the riht, he mahte halden the ant wearnen the to smiten." In Genesy, ad Loth: festina, et cetera. Non potero ibi quicquam facere, donec egressus fueris illinc. Thet is, tha ure Laverd walde bisenchen Sodome ther Lot his freond wes inne, "hihe the," quoth he, "ut-ward. For hwil thu art bimong ham, ne mei ich nawt don ham." Nes thes with luve i-bunden? Hwet wult tu mare? Luve is his chamberleng, his conseiler, his spuse, thet he ne mei nawt heole with, ah teleth al thet he thencheth. In Genesy: Num celare potero Abraham que gesturus sum? "Mei ich," quoth ure Laverd, "heolen Abraham thing thet ich thenche to donne? Nai, o nane wise." Nu con thes luvien the thus speketh ant thus deth to alle the him inwardliche leveth ant luvieth. The blisse thet he yarketh ham, as ha is unevenlich to alle worldes blissen, alswa ha is untalelich to worldliche tungen. Ysaias: Oculus non vidit Deus absque te que preparasti diligentibus te. Apostolus: Oculus non vidit, nec auris audivit, et cetera. Ye habbeth of theos blissen i-writen elles-hwer, mine leove sustren. This luve is the riwle the riwleth the heorte. Confitebor tibi in directione - id est, in regulatione - cordis. Exprobatio malorum, generatio que non direxit cor suum. This is the leafdi riwle - alle the othre servith hire. Ant ane for hire sake me hat ham to luvien. Lutel strengthe ich do of ham, for-hwon thet theos beo deore-wurthliche i-halden. Habbeth ham thah scheortliche i the eahtuthe dale.

223-24 Grickisch fur . . . acwenchen, Greek fire (i.e., burning pitch used as a weapon) is made from a red man's blood, and nothing but urine, and sand, and vinegar, as people say, can quench it.

226 i-readet, reddened; ahne, own.

226-27 wes inread . . . weneth, was very ruddy (or, red) by nature also, as people believe.

227-30 for ow i-sched . . . luve acwenchen, shed for you upon the earlier (i.e., previously mentioned) two pieces of wood, will make you Sarephtans - that is, ignite [you] with this Greek fire, which as Solomon says, no waters - those are worldly tribulations, no temptations either inner or outer - can quench this love.

230-31 Nu nis thenne . . . acwencheth, Now there is not anything [to do] in the end but protect yourself cautiously against everything that quenches it.

232-33 O sond . . . this fur, In sand no good thing grows and [it thus] symbolizes idleness. Idleness cools and quenches this fire.

233 Sturieth ow cwicliche, Always stir (or, busy) yourself quickly (or, vigorously).

234 heaten, heat (verb); ant ontenden this fur . . . sunne, and ignite this fire against the burning of sin.

234-36 For alswa as the an neil . . . heorte, For just as the one nail drives out the other, just so the burning of God's love drives out the burning of foul love from the heart.

236 eisil, vinegar.

236-37 sur heorte . . . onde, a sour heart of spite or of envy.

237-39 tha the nithfule Giws . . . Consumatum est, when the spiteful Jews offered our Lord this sour present (i.e., vinegar) upon the Cross, then He said the sorrowful words, "It is finished" (John 19:30).

239-42 "Neaver," . . . of his hure, "Never," He said, "before now was I fully tortured," not by the vinegar, but by their envious spite which the vinegar symbolized which they made Him drink, and is just (lit., like) as though a man who had long toiled and [who] came short of (or, failed to get) his pay after long labor.

242-43 Alswa ure Laverd . . . to hure, Just so our Lord for more than thirty-two years toiled for (or, strove after) their love, and for all His painful toil wanted nothing but love as pay.

243-45 Ah i the ende . . . bitter onde! But in the end of His life, which was as if in (i.e., like) the evening-time when one pays workmen their day's wages, look how they repaid Him: for the spiced wine of honey love [they gave Him the] vinegar of sour spite and gall of bitter envy!

246 tha, then.

247-48 ne sweameth . . . i-don habbe, does not pain or trouble me at all in comparison to this - that I give away (i.e., am giving away) everything I have done in this way.

248 This eisil thet . . . mi pine, This vinegar which you offer Me, this sour pay, completes (or, consummates) My pain.

249 thonc, thought; acwencheth, quenches.

251 ha is Giwes make, she is a Jew's equal (or, companion).

251-52 thurhfulleth onont hire, fulfills as [it] regards her, (or, as far as she is concerned).

252-53 Me warpeth . . . overkimeth ham, One throws Greek fire on his enemies (lit., foe-men) and so one overcomes them.

253-54 Ye schule don alswa . . . weorre, You (pl.) must do likewise when God raises up for you any attack from any foe.

254 Hu ye hit schule warpen . . . teacheth, How you should throw it Solomon teaches.

254-56 Si esurierit inimicus tuus . . . caput ejus, "If your enemy be hungry, feed him; if he be thirsty, give him drink. Thus you truly heap burning coals over his head" (Proverbs 25:21-22; see Romans 12:20).

258 yef him fode of thine beoden . . . are, give him the food of your prayers that God may do (i.e., grant) him grace.

259-60 "rukelin . . . gleden," "pile up burning embers on his head."

260-61 thu schalt ontenden . . . luvie the, you will ignite (or, set on fire) his heart to love you.

261-62 For heorte is . . . dome, For the heart is to be understood in Holy Writ by "head." In such a way will God say at the Judgment.

263 ha luveden me! they loved me!

263-64 "Ye . . . to yelden," "Indeed," He will say, "you repaid what you owed. Here I do not have anything much to repay to you."

264-66 Yef thu maht ondswerien . . . yelden, If you could answer, "they did every misery to me, and I owed them no love, but, sir, I loved them for Your love" - [then] that love He owes you, for it was given to Him and He will repay it to you.

267 Migge, Urine.

267-68 is stinkinde flesches luve . . . bitacneth, is the stinking love of the flesh, which extinguishes spiritual love, which Greek fire symbolizes.

269 Ant thah, And nevertheless.

270 Nisi ego abiero . . . ad vos, "Unless I go away, the Paraclete (i.e., the Holy Spirit) will not come to you" (John 16:7).

271 Bute, Unless.

272 ich chulle, I will.

273-75 Hwen Jesu Cristes ahne deciples . . . bathe togederes, When Jesus Christ's own disciples, while they loved Him bodily (or, in the body), near Him they went without (lit., forwent) the sweetness of the Holy Spirit, nor might they have both together.

275-77 Demeth ow-seolven . . . his speche? Judge for yourselves: is not he insane - or she - who loves too much her own body or [who loves] any man physically so that she [may] yearn too much for the sight of him or his talk (or, conversation)?

277 Ne thunche hire neaver wunder . . . frovre, [Let it] not seem strange to her if the Holy Ghost's comfort is lacking to her (i.e., if she lacks the comfort of the Holy Spirit).

278-79 Cheose nu . . . mot leten, [Let] each one now choose from (i.e., between) these two - earthly and heavenly strength - to which she will hold, for she must leave the other.

279-80 For i the tweire monglunge . . . heorte, For, in the mixture (or, contamination) of the two, she can nevermore have purity of heart.

281 grithful, peaceful.

282-83 a meistrie bivoren alle othre . . . ahne, a power above all others; for everything that she touches, everything she turns to herself, and makes everything her own.

283-84 Quemcumque locum . . . vester erit, "Whatever place you set your foot on" - the foot, clearly, of love - "will be yours" (Deuteronomy 11:24, with gloss).

284-85 Deore walde moni . . . his ahne, Many a man would buy such a thing dearly (i.e., at a high price) [so] that everything he might touch against [it], everything would be his own.

285-87 Ant ne seide hit th'ruppe . . . thin ahne god, And [was] it not said far above (see 4.1271-74), simply by the fact that you love the good that is in another, with the [Midas] touch of your love, you make without [any] other work his good your own good.

288 the ontfule, the envious; Streche thi luve, If you stretch (or, extend) your love.

289 Rin him, Touch Him (imper.); sum mon, for some man (or, person).

289-90 sum-chearre . . . wilnest, sometime, He is yours to do everything with that you will.

290-91 thet leaveth hit . . . is wurth? who leaves it (or, gives it up) for less than it is worth (i.e., for something that is worth less)?

291 Nis Godd betere . . . the world? Is God not incomparably better than everything that is in the world?

291-92 Chearite is cherte . . . deore, Love (lit., charity) is the cherishing of a beloved and precious thing.

292-94 Undeore he maketh Godd . . . he ane, He (i.e., that person) makes God cheap (lit., un-dear) and too worthless by far, who for any worldly thing slackens in his love, for nothing can be loved (passive inf.) rightly, but He alone (or, no creature can love rightly, except He alone).

294-96 Swa overswithe . . . moste nede, So excessively He loves love that He makes her His equal. Yet I dare say more - He makes her His master and does all that she commands as though He must needs [do it].

296 Ye, witerliche ich, Yes, certainly I [can prove it].

297 the monne meast him luvede, who of [all] men loved Him most.

297-98 In Numeri . . . dicit preces, In Numbers: "I have pardoned according to your word" (Numbers 14:20) - [note that He does not say "prayers."]

298-99 "Ich hefde . . . i-forthet," [God to Moses:] "I had," He said, "resolved to wreak my anger on this people. But you say I must not. Let your word be furthered (or, advanced)."

299-300 Me seith, They say.

300-01 witerliche luve bint . . . leave, certainly, love binds (bint = reduced form of bindeth) our Lord in such a way (lit., so) that He can do nothing except by love's permission.

301 Nu preove . . . wunder, Now [here is] the proof for this, since it seems strange.

302 Domine, non est . . . teneat te, "Lord, there is no one who rises up and lays hold of You (i.e., prevents You)" (Isaiah 64:7).

303-04 "Wei-la-wei! . . . to smiten," "Alas! You might well [do it] - there is no one who could hold (or, stop) You," as though he said, "if anyone loved You rightly, he could hold you and prevent You from smiting (lit., to smite)."

304-06 In Genesy, ad Loth . . . fueris illinc, In Genesis, [God] to Lot: "hurry, etc. I will not do anything there until you will have left that place" (Genesis 19:22).

306-08 tha ure Laverd . . . don ham, when our Lord wanted to sink Sodom where Lot his friend was (lit., was in), "Rush yourself," he said, "out from here (lit., outward). For while you are among them (i.e., the Sodomites), I cannot do anything to them."

308 Nes thes . . . i-bunden? Was He (lit., this one) not bound by love?; Hwet wult tu mare? What more do you want?

309 chamberleng, chamberlain; thet he ne mei nawt heole with, whom He can hide nothing from.

310 In Genesy . . . gesturus sum? In Genesis: "Can I conceal from Abraham what I am about to do?" (Genesis 18:17).

311 Mei ich . . . to donne? "Can I," says our Lord, "hide from Abraham the thing that I think to do?"

312-14 Nu con thes . . . worldliche tungen, Now this person can love (or, knows how to love), who speaks this way and acts thus to all who trust and love Him inwardly (or, spiritually). The joy which He prepares (or, is preparing) for them, just as it is incomparable (i.e., cannot be compared) to all the world's joys, likewise it is indescribable to (i.e., cannot be described by) worldly tongues.

315-16 Ysaias: Oculus non vidit . . . audivit, Isaiah: "The eye has not seen O God except You, what You have prepared for those who love You" (Isaiah 64:4); The Apostle: "Eye has not seen, or ears heard [nor has it entered into the heart of man what things God has prepared for those who love Him]" (1 Corinthians 2:9).

316-17 Ye habbeth . . . elles-hwer, You have, concerning these joys, [something] written elsewhere [in this book].

318-19 Confitebor tibi . . . cor suum, "I will confess to You in uprightness" - that is, the regulation - "of the heart" (Psalm 118:7). "Reproach of the wicked, a generation which did not regulate its heart" (Psalm 77:8).

319-20 leafdi riwle, lady rule.

320-22 Ant ane for hire sake . . . eahtuthe dale, And only for her sake it is commanded (lit., one commands) to love them (i.e., the other rules). I put little importance on them, as long as this one be reverently (lit., preciously) kept. You have them (i.e., will find them), though, briefly in the eighth part.


(Cambridge, Corpus Christi College, MS 402), written sometime roughly between 1225 and 1240, represents a revision of an earlier work, usually called the Ancrene Riwle or "Anchorites' Rule," a book of religious instruction for three lay women of noble birth, sisters, who had themselves enclosed as anchoresses somewhere in the West Midlands, perhaps somewhere between Worcester and Wales. The author was apparently either an Augustinian canon or a Dominican friar, and by the time of the revision, Ancrene Wisse's readership had expanded to include a much wider community of anchoresses, over twenty in number according to the text, scattered mainly in the west of England.

ed. Robert Hasenfratz (Kalamazoo, Michigan: Medieval Institute Publications, 2000). Part VII.