Dame Julian of Norwich was an anchoress. She lived in the fourteenth century and wrote “Revelations of Divine Love.”
She “good counsel did give” to her visitors, one of whom was Margery Kempe who wrote an autobiography, a rare and perhaps unique thing to do at that time, especially for a woman.
Likewise, Dame Julian’s “Revelations” was perhaps the first book by a woman ever printed in English.
Today is International Women’s Day. An impressive Italian multi-lingual arts website called Margutte has just uploaded a poem of mine called “The Ageing Anchoress.” The poem is of course much inspired by Dame Julian and her influence, with its extraordinary image of voluntary confinement for life, in faith.
Margutte’s editor timed the uploading especially to coincide with today.
In his poem “Four Quartets,” the poet TS Eliot quotes from “Revelations of Divine Love” – wonderful soothing words of assurance and faith and acceptance.
But there are other ways of making sense of that cell where the anchoress lived and died, that windowed bricking up of her body, so that her soul might fly with Christ.
I could not help but equate it to old age in modern life, the walls closing in as the world turns away from you and rushes on.
Here is a link to Margutte’s home page, with “The Ageing Anchoress” on the right, beneath the blue mountain.