I have recently been really taken by a selection of poems by Carmen Bernos de Gasztold called Prières dans l'Arche. Carmen Bernos de Gasztold was a French nun of Lithuanian descent. From after the Second World War, she lived at the Benedictine Abbeye Saint Louis du Temple at Limon-par-Igny. She published two major sets of poetry: Prières dans L'Arche, and Choral de bêtes, Ed. du Cloître, 1955. Mary Medlicott told me about them some time ago.
As the title suggests, they are prayes from animals (and Noah) in the Ark. Intended for children, and in simple language, they are imaginative and moving views of what an animal values. The cat doesn't really want anything, but if there happened to be a mouse or some milk, it might know someone who would appreciate it. The dog wants security; the monkey wants to be taken seriously. The raven revels in the destruction of the flood, and the dove wants to bring hope to those in the Ark.
I have used five of the poems as inspiration so far, and will probably continue to do so, when I can. There are twenty-seven poems.
They are still under copyright, but the Smithsonian Institution has made some available as the sleeve note of a recording in their catalogue.
The picture opposite is by Jan Brueghel the Elder - The Entry of the Animals into Noah's Ark.
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