Anselm Hollo
from Sensation 27 (1972)

 

 

Anselm's Dreams

 
 

 


for anselm george berrigan


saint anselm of aosta, Ie bec, & canterbury, a.d. 1033-1109, who
spent much of his life attempting to prove the existence of god by
logic, "in plain language & by ordinary argument, & in a simple
manner of discussion."

*

having heard from his mother, the good ermenberga
that there is one god in heaven above
he imagined, like a boy bred up among mountains
that heaven rested on the mountains
& thus the palace of god was there
& the way up to it was up the mountains
his thoughts ran much upon this

*

& on a certain night he dreamed that he ought to go up to the top of
the mountain & hasten to the palace of god, the great king. but
before he began to ascend, he saw, in the plain which reached to the
foot of the mountain, some women reaping corn, who were the
king's maidens but did their work very carelessly.
                                                                                     the boy, grieved
at their sloth, & rebuking it, settled in his mind to accuse them
before the lord. so having pressed on to the top of the mountain, he
came into the palace, & there found the king with only his chief
butler for company, for all the household had been sent out to
gather the harvest, for it was autumn .
                                                                 so he went in, & the lord
called him, & he drew near & sat at his feet. then the lord asked him
with gracious kindness, who he was, whence he came, & what he
wanted. he answered according to the truth, & then the lord
commanded, & bread of the finest was brought to him by the chiet
butler, & he ate, & was refreshed before the lord, & plumb forgot
to tell him about the careless reapers.
                                                                  & therefore, in the morning,
when he recalled what he had seen, he believed that he really had
been in heaven, & been refreshed by the lord's bread, & so he
declared, before others.

*

thirty years later, abbot anselm sat apart in a comer of the church,
to weep & pray for his friend.
                                                  from heaviness & sorrow he fell
asleep & saw certain highly venerable personages enter the room
where osbern had died, & sit round for judgment.
                                                                                      & while he was
wondering what the verdict would be, osbern himself appeared,
like a man just recovering, or pale. three times, he said, had the
serpent risen up against him, but three times he fell back, & the
bearward of the lord, ursarius domini, stood by his side & chased
the serpent away.

*

then anselm awoke & knew that his friend was saved, & that the
angels do keep off our foes in the beyond, as the bearwards keep off
the bears.