Wednesday, September 21, 2011

The Writer's Rose

While long time, life long friend Patty and I were visiting my mother this past weekend,  mom in her customary fashion picked up a book of poetry,  Bartlett's Poems For Occasions  and said , " I want to read this to you. It's so lovely."  Mom  carefully opened to the page she had bookmarked  and began reading The Rose by 17th century poet and mystic,  Angelus Silesius

The Rose has no "why",
it blooms because it blooms
it doesn't watch itself
or wonder if anyone see's it

Silence. Is that it, I asked.   "Yes", mom said.

"Please,  read it again".    Mom did. This time I listened not just with my ears, but with heart, too. I understood better, and  agreed the epigram (1)  was lovely, and profound. I related the short poem with  one's  desire to be acknowledged and acclaimed, and  contemplated   how how much better if we could  find solace in accepting     we are because we are. We do because we do. We create because we create, and don't need to plague ourselves with the constant worry,  and wondering   if others see us as talented or beautiful, but for us to proceed and persevere in  simply being .

Angelus Silesius 

A  few days later I found myself thinking  again about The Rose and the line, it blooms because it blooms. But now I translated it blooms because it blooms into I write because I write. I'm guessing many writers feel the same .   Not that many of us will become best selling authors, we just  write because it is part of who we are, a way to express ourselves, to tell a story,  whether fact or fiction. Yes, of course  we write in the hope others might read our words, but  primarily we write because we write, like the rose blooms because it blooms.

Prior to my mother reading  The Rose, I  was not familiar with Angelus Silesius so I  decided to find out more about him.   He was born Johannes Scheffler in 1624 and upon his conversion to the Catholic faith in 1653 chose to be called by his baptismal name, Angelus Silesius. Silesius after the country of his birth.  He was ordained a priest in 1661 and  while he contributed to a considerable body of Lutheran and Catholic hymns,  he his primarily  known for his book of poems, The Cherubinic Wanderer , most recently translated by Maria Shrady in a volume of The Classics of Western Spirituality series from Paulist Press. According to Shrady, Silesius mastered the seventeenth century literary form of the epigram and used it to proclaim the mystical dimensions of Christianity.

Included here  are two examples of a  Silesius' epigrams:

The Silent Prayer

God far exceeds all words that we can here express.
In silence He is heard, in silence worshiped best.

The Sweetest Revelry

Oh, the sweetest revelry ! God has become my wine,
meat, table, serving man, my music when I dine.

The Cherubic Wanderer includes 1,143 verses, mostly couplets ,  together with ten supplementary sonnets and can be ordered on line  at

For more information about Angelus Silesius visit

Whether I read more of Silesius or not, I don't know.  What I do know,  is the next time I sit down to write,  the beautiful image of a rose will come to mind and I'll smile to myself as I 'm reminded,  it blooms because it blooms. 

(1) epigram
witty saying: a concise, witty, and often paradoxical remark or saying
poetry short poem: a short poem, often expressing a single idea, that is usually satirical and has a witty ending
witty form of expression: a witty or concise mode of expression, either written or spoken
[ 15th century. Directly or via French < Latin epigramma < Greek < graphein "write" ]
ep·i·gram·ma·tism NOUN
ep·i·gram·ma·tist NOUN


elizabethbrinton said...

Very interesting! I wonder what happened to epigrams?

Nancy Owens Barnes said...

Thanks Kathy for this reminder that our true creative desires always come from within. Nice post.