Bread & Ruminations

Bede the Venerable, telling the story of Caedmon, the illiterate cowherd who became by divine agency the first man to compose Christian poetry in the form of the ancient Germanic heroic verse, says that the monks would read to him stories from sacred Scripture, and then the man would do something with them. He would, says Bede, like the clean cattle of the old Law, chew the cud. He would ruminate upon them.

That did not mean that he would test them against his own thoughts and feelings. Cows in the field, chewing the cud, do not ask themselves what they feel about clover and hay. There's something much quieter, almost unconscious, about rumination. It's almost as if . . .

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Anthony Esolen is a professor at Magdalene College of the Liberal Arts in Warner, New Hampshire, and the author of many books, including Life Under Compulsion (ISI Books), Real Music: A Guide to the Timeless Hymns of the Church (Tan, with a CD), Out of the Ashes: Rebuilding American Culture (Regnery), and The Hundredfold: Songs for the Lord (Ignatius Press, 2019). He has also translated Dante's Divine Comedy (Random House). He is a senior editor of Touchstone.

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more from the online archives

27.2—March/April 2014

Poetry Above Compulsion

Higher Education Should Advance the Glorious Liberty of the Sons of God by Anthony Esolen

28.3—May/June 2015

Dumb Sheep

on the Truth About a Slanderous Accusation by James S. Spiegel

32.6—November/December 2019

God Fearers

An Open Letter to Christian Readers of Jordan Peterson & Roger Scruton by James Bryson