The Pearl-Poet’s Saint Erkenwald

Here’s an article on a work of the Pearl-Poet’s called St. Erkenwald. This poem uses a legend associated with St. Gregory the Great but within a scenario set in England. A rather interesting piece which ponders how the dead before the time of Christ receive God’s mercy.

Aquila et Infans

Pardon my long delay in writing about this poem.  It had nothing to do with the poem itself, which is the shortest and perhaps the most uplifting.  It’s theme squares completely with the theology of Pearl, and draws from the legends of the Church Fathers.  In the poem, a body of a long deceased person is discovered incorrupt.  Bishop Erkenwald of London–the successor of Bishop Wine (what a name!)–arrives on the scene to investigate the miracle.  Yet another miracle occurs when the soul comes back to the body for a short time in order to explain his story.


The translator of this work, Casey Finch, has an excellent introduction, where he rightly notes that a similar story concerning St. Gregory the Great forms the basis for this poem.  Essentially, St. Gregory remembers the many virtues of the Emperor Trajan and sheds tears over the fact that he died…

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Legens, scribe sententias tuas.

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