Wednesday, April 20, 2016

npm pmmu #20: viriditas

VIRIDITAS.  Now that's a wonderful word.  Pieced together from some excellent Latin roots by the abbess Hildegard of Bingen (1098-1179), the word "viriditas" has mystic Christian connotations of newness and creativity, vigor and, of course, greenness. What I like about Hildegard's outlook (and also her introspective perspective is that she was clearly an Earth lover, possibly the first conscious Planet Protector in history.

This scholarly work about her music & writings says they're "noted for their idiosyncratic use of language, neologisms, and inventive imagery.[1] A phrase from the sequence “O ignis Spiritus Paraclitii” provides a ready example, “terra viriditatem sudat,”[2] which has been translated the following ways: 
“the earth exudes freshness,” 
earth swells with living green,” 
“the earth sweats out green things growing,” 
"washing the evergreen globe.”[3] 
The variety of translations stems from the word viriditas, a word that appears often throughout her writings and has challenged translation by Hildegard scholars.[4] Its literal English equivalent is “greenness,” yet such a term still remains enigmatic in its English form."

I'm fascinated. So I selected and cut and pasted some pieces of Hildegard's own writing to make an Earth Day poem for all ages. 

Viriditas | composed from the writings of Hildegarde of Bingen
Glance at the sun. See the moon and the stars.
Gaze at the beauty of earth’s greenings.
Now, think.
Holy persons draw to themselves all that is earthly. . . .
The earth is at the same time mother,
She is mother of all that is natural,
mother of all that is human.
She is the mother of all,
for contained in her
are the seeds of all.
All nature is at the disposal of humankind.
We are to work with it. 
For without we cannot survive.

If you jump to minute 15:43 of this recording you'll hear the piece mentioned above. Viriditas be with you!

1 comment:

  1. "yet such a term still remains enigmatic in its English form." Greenness is far from enigmatic! All I need do is think "spring!"


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