Alice Meynell, the wife of the partnership who sheltered Francis Thompson during his affliction and nurtured his genius, seems to present human beings as trying to conceive of Christ in the mind in her poem:
TO THE MOTHER OF CHIST, THE SON OF MAN
We too (one cried), we too,
We the unready, the perplexed, the cold,
Must shape the Eternal in our thoughts anew,
Cherish, possess, enfold.
Thou sweetly, we in strife.
It is our passion to conceive Him thus
In mind, in sense, within our house of life;
That seed is locked in us.
We must affirm our Son
From the ambiguous Nature's difficult speech
Gather in darkness that resplendent One,
Close as our grasp can reach.
Nor shall we ever rest
From this our task. An hour sufficed for thee,
Thou innocent! He lingers in the breast
Of our humanity.
Meynell's main message posits that, whereas Mary conceived Christ as a mother, in her womb [not intellectually] in what for her was a simple hour , humankind makes a lifetime task out of conceiving Christ in the mind.
Dr Luky Whittle
Poet and suffragist
Alice Christiana Gertude Meynell was an English writer, editor, critic and suffragist; now remembered mainly as poet.
Her first poetry collection was Preludes , and was illustrated by her elder sister - the artist Lady Elizabeth Butler.
John Ruskin, the leading English art critic of the Victorian era, praised Preludes - in particular, the sonnet 'Renunciation' for its beauty and delicacy.
Faith in Poetry
Meynell's writings migrated to subjects of religious matters.
Her "Sœur Monique" is a serene testament to a woman of faith
The poet addresses 'Quiet form of silent nun' , and speaks of
'This old master's melody 
That expresses you; 
Meynell illuminates the faith-woman's life of prayerful unity with God. The sister is seen standing
'With your life held in your hand 
As a rosary of days 
A magnificent image is thus flawlessly word-painted by the poet, whose personal faith was an integral part of her being.
Economy of syntax
The poet created 'Via, et Veritas, et Vita' ; 'I am the Way',
'Unto us a Son is given' and 'Veni Creator'.
These poems with spiritual titles and text are a clear indication of her faith translating into her creativity.
The poetry Meynell produced from 1893 to 1902 demonstrated her growing mastery of what one critic named a 'chastened' form.
She manipulated economy of syntax and rare felicity of expression, within the orthodox sonnet and quatrain.
The poet's spiritual and emotional strength led her to support others in their difficulties.
She and her husband were deeply supportive of the poet Francis Thompson who was struggling to overcome opium addiction.
Wilfred and Alice Meynell rescued Thompson from the streets and sent him to a hospital to help him with rehabilitation.
They supported him both financially and emotionally his entire life.
Thompson - his wounded body and mind given shelter and peace by the poet and her husband - overcame his disability to produce exceptionally fine poetry.
Such was the warmth the kindness of the Meynells inspired in Thompson, that he referred to Alice as 'Mother', 'Lady' and even 'Madonna Alice'.
Francis, the Meynell's last child, was named for his godfather - Francis Thompson.
Women Writers' Suffrage League
Meynell - a leading figure in the Women Writers' Suffrage League - spoke out courageously on behalf of the oppressed.
She campaigned for the right of women to vote; and witnessed the success of the suffragette movement in her lifetime.
The poet was an activist who used her abilities and position in society to reach out to help those in need.
This luminous 'madonna' - sensitive to the needs of others as she struggled with her own series of illnesses, including migraine and depression - continued to pen a library of letters, essays and poetry that stand to this day.
|Poet Alice Maynell|
Via, et Veritas, et Vita
I am the Way
Unto us a Son is given
With thanks to Poetry.elcore.net
Image and Editing by Catherine Nicolette