Monday, 24 March 2014

Three Thoughts: The Gate of Heaven

For those of you new to this blog (hello!), 'Three Thoughts' is a series in which I collect, without comment, three texts or extracts linked by a single word or phrase. In this case it's the 'gate of heaven', which comes ultimately from the story in Genesis 28:10-17.


John Donne, from a sermon preached on 29th February, 1628.

And those that sleep in Jesus Christ (saith the Apostle) will God bring with him; not only fetch them out of the dust when he comes, but bring them with him, that is, declare that they have been in his hands ever since they departed out of this world. They shall awake as Jacob did, and say as Jacob said, Surely the Lord is in this place, and this is no other but the house of God, and the gate of heaven. And into that gate they shall enter, and in that house they shall dwell, where there shall be no Cloud nor Sun, no darkness nor dazzling, but one equal light; no noise nor silence, but one equal music; no fears nor hopes, but one equal possession; no foes nor friends, but one equal communion and identity; no ends nor beginnings, but one equal eternity.


Thomas Traherne, Centuries of Meditations, I.31.

You never enjoy the world aright, till you so love the beauty of enjoying it, that you are covetous and earnest to persuade others to enjoy it. And so perfectly hate the abominable corruption of men in despising it, that you had rather suffer the flames of Hell than willingly be guilty of their error. There is so much blindness and ingratitude and damned folly in it. The world is a mirror of infinite beauty, yet no man sees it. It is a Temple of Majesty, yet no man regards it. It is a region of Light and Peace, did not men disquiet it. It is the Paradise of God. It is more to man since he is fallen than it was before. It is the place of Angels and the Gate of Heaven. When Jacob waked out of his dream, he said "God is here, and I wist it not. How dreadful is this place! This is none other than the House of God, and the Gate of Heaven."


Wilfrid Scawen Blunt, My Diaries; Being a Personal Narrative of Events, 1888-1914 (New York, 1932), p. 229, describing a visit from William Morris in May 1896.

We had a long discussion whether the love of beauty was natural or acquired. 'As for me,' he said, 'I have it naturally, for neither my father nor my mother nor any of my relations had the least idea of it. I remember as a boy going into Canterbury Cathedral and thinking that the gates of Heaven had been opened to me--also when I first saw an illuminated manuscript. These first pleasures, which I discovered for myself, were stronger than anything else I have had in life.'

Canterbury Cathedral, from the Quire


jpg said...

You might like this, if you've not already come across it: a simple Latin stanza composed in regular Norse dróttkvætt metre, which enjoins a friend, perhaps a newly professed monk or priest, to dwell within the porta caeli.

Esto, consors caste,
cura mente purus;
sume tibi, Thoma,
tutum fide scutum.
Vive intus, ave,
ortus celi porta;
inde gregis grandis
gaude Christi laude.

Clerk of Oxford said...

Thank you - I hadn't come across that before! Very interesting. (Is it common to find Latin verse composed in dróttkvætt, by the way? I don't know much about medieval Scandinavian Christian poetry...)