Hildegard von Bingen (1098-1179)

dogwoodAt church a few weeks ago, my pastor asked if anyone knew who Saint Hildegard of Bingen was. He then rattled through a few more saints, before landing on the object of his homily. But I wanted to stop with Hildegard, a name I hadn’t heard since graduate school. Then, this morning, looking through a book of poems by Rilke, I discovered this epigraph, attributed to her.

I am the one whose praise echoes on high.
I adorn all the earth.
I am the breeze that nurtures all things green.
I encourage blossoms to flourish with ripening fruits.
I am led by the spirit to feed the purest streams.
I am the rain coming from the dew
that causes the grasses to laugh with the joy of life.
I am the yearning for good.

This reminds me of Walt Whitman’s poem, “There Was a Child Went Forth” (“And the first object he look’d upon, that object he became”), though Hildegard was writing about God (as was Rilke, in his Book of Hours). You could use this poem as a prompt for an exercise personifying anything, including yourself.  Just start your first line with I am…and add what you see, or love, or most appreciate…and keep going.

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