Dionysius, a poem by Andrew Thornton-Norris

Padua-Baptistry-CeilingI know I said I wasn't going to write much, but I just saw this. It's a poem that I actually like. It's by Andrew Thornton-Norris. He wrote it after reading Hans Urs von Balthasar's description of the theology of Pseudo-Dionysius the Areopagite. Von Balthasar is almost as always hard work for me . He seems to be saying the right sort of things and I know that because all right sorts of people quote him when talking about beauty, so he must be good...but when you actually get to his texts I find he's very difficult to understand. Perhaps it is a mark of his genius, that H U von B has managed to produce a valid commentary on Pseudo-Dionysius that is even less intelligible than the original.

So, it's always a relief to let somebody else you can trust do all the hard work of reading Hans Urs von B. and then condense it and explain it you. This was once reason I am so glad that we have Pope Benedict. Anyway here's Andrew's succinct poetic summarization.

As he says, heaven is revealed in the liturgy......


As form contains the meaning of the work

So heaven is revealed in liturgy

The inward grace in sacramental sign

The mystery of being uncovering.


Ineluctable trinitarian light

The beatific vision happiness

The love that moves the sun and other stars

Our brother sun and sister moon and stars



Andrew is an Englishman and Resident Poet at the Imaginative Conservative (where this poem was published). He is also the author of a Spiritual History of English which has been endorsed by no less than Roger Scruton and Fr Aidan Nichols and was reviewed by the Times (that's the 'London Times' to Americans).. and amongst many others, myself. My review of his book is called - A Book for Anyone Interested in the Evangelization of the Culture.

I like the way he talks about literature and poetry. He analyses content and form and relates them to the world view of the poet or author. In this there are many parallels to my own analysis of art. In his book he describes how the structure of the English language and the use of vocabulary has changed to reflect the broadly held worldview of the English speaking peoples of the time. In his analysis, the language itself, and not just the way it is used has become gradually more impoverished since the time of Shakespeare and the language we speak today is a direct reflection of the cumulative effects of the Reformation, the Enlightenment and Modernity.

So if you have complaints about my prose, I say it's not my fault... it was the Reformation wot dunnit.