Westron wynde, when wylt thou blow?
The smalle rayne downe can rayne.
Cryst! yf my love were in my arms
And I yn my bed agayne.
Dear Students and fellow lovers of literature, this little lyric of love-longing, perhaps as old as the thirteenth century, is always in the ears of my mind during Advent. In these chill, rainy days of final papers and exams, perhaps you, too, feel a cubilary longing?
When will the winter end? Is it really only just getting started? When will the west wind rise to scatter the locusts? When will the sweet breath of Zephyrus make all things new? When may I rest at last in the arms of love?
I am not the only one who has felt a strange holiness in this homely little erotic poem. In the sixteenth century, John Taverner and others used it as the basis for some of the most beautiful liturgical music of the day. I urge you to listen well.
In the long nights ahead, I hope you will bear with you the mystery that Taverner heard in the western wind. In this season, if you are battered on life's threshing-floor, may the weight of love sustain you as the winnowing wind blows.
St. Nicholas, pray for us!
Director of Undergraduate Studies
Associate Professor of English