By Annette Marie Hyder
like bookends lacquered in gold crackle
as if I am a book
with my spine trying —
as book-spines are wont —
to share something of myself with the world.
Sometimes I can feel my pages rustling
and I know that someday
the sun will no longer bracket me,
will not illuminate the print on the outside,
but instead will seep quietly into my pages
limning all the words inside —
the ones we all have —
monk-labored and calligraphy kissed
like a manuscript of old, lavish in marginalia,
And I see those words trellis across the manuscript —
that I’ll be writing with.
Yes, it is true that the spine is a metaphor for courage,
a byword for assertiveness.
Behind the narrow strip
where the cover of this book is joined to its pages,
let each word be written with brushes dipped
in the gold of burning stars and glissed
with the ruby of molten rocks,
the hard glass green of chemo-sensing sea serpents,
and the brightest blue that delicately floats on lepidoptera wings.
Let the black be rich and let it still cling
to darkest earth/womb/tomb from whence it came,
sometimes leaving smudges where none were intended
through muck fecundity.
The British Library Medieval and Earlier Manuscripts Blog is filled with pictures of pages and attendant information pertaining to said pages from illuminated books and ancient manuscripts. The four examples below from the BLMEMB (British Library Medieval and Earlier Manuscripts Blog) include:
1. Miniatures of (in the initial) a
poet-lover presenting verses to his lady and (in the right margin) a
lover’s heart, burning on a fire and being quenched with rain; from a
collection of 49 love sonnets, Italy (probably Milan), 2nd or 3rd
quarter of the 15th century, King’s MS 322, f. 1r.
2. Miniature of the Apparition of Michael.
Beneath the miniature is a single four-line red stave, musical notation
and a single line of text in gold capitals ‘Exultando in Gesu’.
Illuminated by Pacino di Buonaguida, Italy (Florence), c. 1340, Additional 35254B
3. A detail from the Speculum
sapientiae, or Mirror of Wisdom, a Latin text that included a large number of beast fables. Detail of a miniature of the hedgehog reproaching the goat for his vanity; from Ulrich von Pottenstein, Spiegel der Weisheit, Austria (Salzburg), c. 1430, Egerton MS 1121, f. 44v.
4. Allegorical miniature of the Tudor rose, incorporating various emblems associated with Henry VIII, from Motets for Henry VIII, Netherlands (Antwerp?), 1516, Royal 11 E. xi, f. 2r
The detail of the miniature of number three is one of my favorites. According to the BLMEMB, “In one of the fables, a goat came upon its
own reflection in a pond. The goat,
seeing the horns on his head and his long goat beard, thought himself very
handsome indeed, and began to bleat, boasting of his horny ‘crown’ and hairy
‘necklace’. A passing hedgehog, however,
was less than impressed. If the goat had
impressive horns and beard, he also had an unsightly tail and a foul
temper. A profound humility, the
hedgehog reproached, not vain
boasting, was what made an animal truly noble.”