A Vocabulary of Delights

A young monk, with little exposure to the company of women, finds himself aroused and seduced by a peasant girl:

"What did I feel? What did I see? I remember only that the emotions of the first moment were bereft of any expression, because my tongue and my mind had not been instructed in how to name sensations of that sort. Until I recalled other inner words, heard in another time and in other places, spoken certainly for other ends, but which seemed wondrously in keeping with my joy in that moment, as if they had been born consubstantially to express it. Words pressed into the caverns of my memory rose to the (dumb) surface of my lips, and I forget that they had served in Scripture or in the pages of the saints to express quite different, more radiant realities. But was there truly a difference between the delights of which the saints had spoken and those that my agitated spirit was feeling at that moment?" [Umberto Eco, The Name of the Rose]

Unacquainted with the vocabulary of love, this young man caught in the moment of passion finds himself helplessly uttering words from the scripture.

We may also imagine its converse, a more familiar example: devoid of a proper vocabulary, a mystic caught in divine ecstasy finds himself helplessly uttering words of passion, love and desire.

Comments

I. said…
Here are Mechtild's, the Christian mystic's, poems on Christ.

Below are her "words of passion, love and desire where she envisages herself as Christ's bride and converses with him:

Stay, Lady Soul.
What do you bid me, Lord?
Take off your clothes.
Lord, what will happen to me then?
Lady Soul, you are so utterly formed to my nature
That not the slightest thing can be between you and me.


But that is not the only relation she had with Christ, as this poem makes it clear:

God has created all creatures to live according to their nature.
How, then, am I to resist my nature?
I must go from all things to God,
Who is my Father by nature,
My Brother by his humanity,
My Bridegroom by love,
And I his bride from all eternity.35


IMO, only mystics know what true love, true passion and true desire is, whether or not they have, or will ever have, a vocabulary suited to express that higher love that is ecstasy.
mysticservant said…
The latter definitely does happen.

But this: "But was there truly a difference between the delights of which the saints had spoken and those that my agitated spirit was feeling at that moment?"

The answer is 'yes'. There is a difference :P