Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Natural Love

We sadly miss the beauty and silliness of medieval cosmology:

“The sun, moon, and stars go still round…for love of perfection. This love is manifest, I say, in inanimate creatures. How comes a loadstone to drawn iron to it? jet chaff? The ground to covet showers, but for love? No creature, St. Hierome concludes, is to be found…[that does not love something], no stock, no stone, that hath not some feeling of love. ‘Tis more eminent in plants, herbs, and is especially observed in vegetals…the olive and the myrtle embrace each other in roots and branches if they grow near…” Robert Burton, Anatomy of Melancholy.


Ian Wolcott said...

Very nice. Which section of the Anatomy is the quote from?

Ian Wolcott said...

Subject II, Third Partition. Silly me.

Ian Wolcott said...

Er, sub-section (not "Subject"). How embarrassing. Really, I wish I could edit my own comments.

Shelf of One's Own said...

Yes, you're right. I'm so impressed you found it. This book is a beast and a labyrinth. Many thanks for suggesting I look it up all those many moons ago, Ian.

Ian Wolcott said...

In VS Pritchett's memoir The Cab at the Door he tells about an uncle of his from Yorkshire who taught himself to read using Burton's Anatomy, if you can believe it.

And thank you, by the way, for introducing me to Godric, a really wonderful book. I just finished it last night.

Ian Wolcott said...

....A month later:

I thought of this wonderful Burton quote again when I read the following from Lucretius the other day, from the invocation of De Rerum Natura:

"Mother of Aeneas and his race, delight of man and gods, life-giving Venus, it is your doing that under the wheeling constellations of the sky all nature teems with life, both the sea that buoys up our ships and the earth that yields our food. Through you all living creatures are conceived and come forth to look upon the sunlight. Before you the winds flee, and the clouds forsake the sky. For you the inventive earth flings up sweet flowers. For you the ocean levels laugh, the sky is calmed and glows with diffused radiance."