— Patrick White, from The Hanging Garden
By Denise Levertov
'Hail, space for the uncontained God'
From the Agathistos Hymn, Greece, VIc
We know the scene: the room, variously furnished,
almost always a lectern, a book; always
the tall lily.
Arrived on solemn grandeur of great wings
the angelic ambassador, standing or hovering,
whom she acknowledges, a guest.
But we are told of meek obedience. No one mentions
The engendering Spirit
did not enter her without consent.
She was free
to accept or refuse, choice
integral to humanness.
Aren’t there some kind of annunciations
of one sort or another
In most lives?
undertake great destinies,
enact them in sullen pride,
when roads of light and storm
open from darkness in a man or woman,
are turned away from
in dread, in a wave of weakness, in despair
and with relief.
Ordinary lives continue.
God does not smite them.
But the gates close, the pathway vanishes.
She had been a child who played, ate, slept
like any other child—but unlike others,
wept only for pity, laughed
in joy not triumph.
Compassion and intelligence
fused in her, indivisible.
Called to a destiny more momentous
than any in all of Time,
she did not quail,
a simple, “How can this be?”
and gravely, courteously,
took to heart the angel’s reply,
the astounding ministry she was offered:
to bear in her womb
Infinite weight and lightness; to carry
in hidden, finite inwardness,
nine months of Eternity; to contain
in slender vase of being,
the sum of power—
in narrow flesh,
the sum of light.
Then bring to birth,
push out into air, a Man-child
needing, like any other,
milk and love—
but who was God.
This was the moment no one speaks of,
when she could still refuse.
A breath unbreathed,
She did not cry, ‘I cannot. I am not worthy,’
Nor, ‘I have not the strength.’
She did not submit with gritted teeth,
Bravest of all humans,
consent illumined her.
The room filled with its light,
the lily glowed in it,
and the iridescent wings.
opened her utterly.
Basia Irland- Ice Books
Irland shares a legacy with intrepid 19th century naturalists, and is utterly heedless of wet, dirt and cold. Along with paddling canoes and waterproofing her hiking boots, she’s handy with a microscope in the service of her art, not to mention collegial goals with biologists, botanists, and stream ecologists. She is also an irrepressible researcher, but she is transparently impassioned by water, watersheds, and the flora and fauna (including communities of people) that populate them.
Rhiannon is a lunar Welsh goddess of inspiration. Her name means “Great Queen,” and serves as a muse for poets, artists, and royalty. She is also a goddess of transformation, easing the dead into the afterlife and carries their souls upon her white horse. She is a shapeshifter, and will often appear as a bird, animal, or through a song.
Artwork cred: Susan Seddon-Boulet