A few poems from “The Land of Spices”
Posted June 5, 2007on:
The poems in the story acted as a bond between the Reverend Mother and her father as well as Anna; as evidence of the curriculum’s deep British impress; of the contemplative and more general religious life; and more practically as a good study aid for Anna (she believed that the early memorisation of poems developed a good study skill). I post a few of them here because I really enjoyed them.
— Henry Vaughan
The words of the poem were sown, by one of the sisters, on a decorative bit of material. When Anna was six, too young to work with the Second Preparatories, she was given work to do on her own. Apparently after she was finished she would observe the sister’s work and so memorised the Peace. When she recites it for the school it brings back bittersweet memories of her own studies with her father who, I forgot to mention, was agnostic.
— George Herbert
This was another poem Mère Marie-Hélène had no doubt learned from her father. Lines from the poem are written here and there, but the most complete mention occurs near the end when she is walking down her favourite path and awaiting an important telegram from the order’s council. As she thinks of the last four lines she believes that her mentor, the Mère Générale she worked for in Brussels would have found it an apt description of the contemplative convent life.
Night-peice: To Julia
— Robert Herrick
When Anna was given the task to learn a poem for recitation every Sunday, Reverend Mother provided the selection but Anna was free to pick which poem she would learn. The Herrick poem was one of them. Sister Mary Eugenia, assistant to the Reverend Mother, remarked that it was an “odd choice” to say the least.