When I contemplated what I could post at the top of the New Year, I remembered my January post from last year. I’m reposting it below because it was all about Dryden’s poem Annus Mirabilis. I couldn’t possibly think of a better way to herald in the New Year. One of the more delightful parts of the post was a conversation I had, real time, with an anonymous commenter. To this day, I don’t know who it was, but clearly it was a child who linked to me off the Irish Dance Magazine site (I might still have a link up on that site–I’ve no idea). You’ll have to click on this link to read the conversation: The Female Quixote. If you don’t want to make the effort, continue reading below. Happy New Year!
Have you read Dryden’s Annus Mirabilis recently? I was thinking about it because, as I re-read the beginning of a slender Brother Lawrence volume (a book I’d received for Christmas), I noticed that the conversations recorded therein had been, well, conversed in the year of our Lord, 1666. What a marvelous year that was, truly. It must have seemed like a doomed year to Christians, with the apocalyptic 666, but thankfully it wasn’t yet the end of the world as we know it!
What occurred in 1666? I always think of this year as special since it was the birth year of Mary Astell, one of my historical soul mates. Thankfully, she didn’t live her early life in London, where the bubonic plague was rampant before being stopped in its tracks by the great fire that destroyed much of the city. In Dryden’s opinion, the fire was miraculous because a new and grand London was (would be) raised from its ashes. There are other events recorded in the poem, such as successful sea battles (successful for the Brits, anyway). Back to the fire, though, 1666 would have brought much good to Sir Christopher Wren, who was the architect responsible for rebuilding much of London after the fire. As for other scientists (Wren was a scientist as well as architect), Newton is said to have been beamed by his apple in 1666, as well. He developed many of his ideas during 1665 and 1666; these years were his creative hour, so to speak.
These are the events that come into my mind w/o making lengthy searches for others. As you can see, aside from Brother Lawrence, all of these marvelous events occurred in England. Would anybody like to add anything to my list? Perhaps there were amazing comets flying over the oceans, heralding God’s destruction of the known universe?
May 2010 be your Annus Mirabilis, yet not in the way it was for England, for heaven’s sake! Plagues and fires and battles at sea are all fantastic, but certainly not any fun to experience first hand. With that, I’ll leave you with some lines from Dryden’s poem.
295 More great than human now, and more august,
Now deified she from her fires does rise:
Her widening streets on new foundations trust,
And opening into larger parts she flies.296 Before, she like some shepherdess did show,
Who sat to bathe her by a river's side;
Not answering to her fame, but rude and low,
Nor taught the beauteous arts of modern pride.297 Now, like a maiden queen, she will behold,
From her high turrets, hourly suitors come;
The East with incense, and the West with gold,
Will stand, like suppliants, to receive her doom!298 The silver Thames, her own domestic flood,(This section is taken from http://www.online-literature.com/dryden/poetical-works-vol1/8/)
Shall bear her vessels like a sweeping train;
And often wind, as of his mistress proud,
With longing eyes to meet her face again.