Marguerite Porret, Marguerite of Porete, and Mrs Anna Livia Plurabelle.

This morning, I was up very early and drinking tea at my window with John Moriarty’s Curlew book before me. The book, What the Curlew Said, describes lightning as emanating from a cloud of ducks or rather, the author who is bodily expecting lightning instead experiences what his body had not expected, ducks landing on a mirrored lake.

Moriarty inserted into the body of his text the following paragraph by Marguerite Porret (Marguerite of Porete),

“Being completely free and in command of her sea of peace the soul is nonetheless drowned and loses herself through God- with him  and in him. She loses her identity, as does the water from a river- like the Ouse or the Meuse- when it flows into the sea. It has done it’s work and can relax in the arms of the sea, and the same is true of the soul. Her work is over and she can lose herself in what she has totally become: Love. Love is the bridegroom of her happiness enveloping her wholly in his love and making her part of that which is. This is a wonder to her and she has become a wonder. Love is her only delight and pleasure.”¹

Interestingly, philosophical ideas like these are an integral part of Eckhart and in the ied in Paul Celan’s Poetry. Porete was burned at the Stake during the French Inquisition for refusing to disclaim her book. Maybe the Inquisitors thought to meet her elemental dissolutions, in this case: Water, with their holy fire?  Happily, we have evolved since then, although unlike Eckhart, Porete was never posthumously rehabilitated from her excommunication, nor did anyone apologise for her torture and murder. Thus we have limited excerpts, free sites, and fought for scholarly articles: Fragments of an existence.

I always think of Joyce’s washerwomen when I see the trees at the side of the River Liffey.  The mastery of imagery in Finnegans Wake is exposed in the beautiful Anna Livia soliloquy. If one alone reads and loses oneself in those images, it is enough. I have heard that the book is difficult, so I suggest breaking it down into small sections and thereby reading the entire.

It is useful to compare the words of Anna Livia as she moves through her cycle, and those words written by the Beguine, Porete in 1306. I like comparative exercises. Though I find hard to believe that such ideas can be so dangerous to religious organisations.

¹ Le miroir des simples ames anienties et qui seulement demeurent en vouloir et desir d’amour by Marguerite of Porete.

Additional links:

  • Marguerite Porete, Le Miroir des simples ames aneaties et qui seulement demourent envouloir et desir d’amour
  • John Moriarty ,What the Curlew Said, Nostos Continued’ John Moriarty .
  • James JoyceFinnegans Wake
  • Edit : 23/07/2012 . I am adding here a link to The International Marguerite Of Porete Society ,


1 thought on “Marguerite Porret, Marguerite of Porete, and Mrs Anna Livia Plurabelle.

  1. The image is Leonard Baskin’s ‘Teasel’.

    I read a little more about Porete today and she was foundational in the type of mysticism that is evinced (indeed) in Meister Eckhart. It took,however, until 1946 for her to be identified positively as the Author of Le Miroir’ (&c). Mostly the information about her is culled from Inquistional records and from what she reveals in the body of her text. The inquisitors did not have the symbolic nor non-linguistic language to understand what she communicated and wrote.. which it seems is par for the course in the breach between dogmatism and mysticism.

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