Poeming Kristin Lavransdatter: Brother Edvin
"monk," an As-In poem
Hello, Poetry Friend
Welcome back to my occasional series, sharing poems inspired by reading and rereading Sigrid Undset’s Kristin Lavransdatter.
Kristin meets Brother Edvin in chapter 2 of The Wreath. She meets Fru Aashild in chapter 3. These two people function as her mentors — each pulling her, but often in opposite directions. Their influence sfinally converge in the final chapter of the third book, enabling her to finally make her penance.
But first, this monk.
One of the things I love about reading Kristin over and over is seeing how it repeats. It’s very Psalmic in that way.
On my page 37, Brother Edvin says this to Kristin, who is a young child at this point:
“But then I could just as well take these old leather gloves and hang them up on that ray of sunshine over there.”
Then, on page 410, he appears to her in a vision, after she is a new mother, and says this:
“The monk laughed and held up a heavy old leather glove toward her; then he hung it on the moonbeam.”
Sunbeam. Moonbeam. Glove. Poem!
I decided to write Brother Edvin an As-In poem, a form I learned about in Kwame Alexander’s The Crossover (where heart disease and basketball meet poetry). The form begins with a word and its definition, then expands to flesh out that idea.
Brother Edvin is a monk. He may be a legit saint. He is without a doubt the clasp across Kristin’s life.
An earlier version of this poem appeared at Project Redux.
monk [munk] noun a man who is a member of a religious order and lives in a monastery As in: This monk is a tall-stooped smiling liar who almost killed a man who paints dragons baptizes on the sly jokes in Latin. He hung a glove on a sunbeam for me. As in: That monk was a clasp across my life between the dwarf maiden and the cathedral between the wreath and the wife between me and the vat. He loved the road more than Sister Poverty and Sister Charity. As in: My monk is a miracle-maker who stands in honey-gold midnight light who hallows streams who died without a hand and yet somehow he hung a glove on a moonbeam for me. Oh merry monk! I gave alms to fashion you a new hand but you must find your own glove. –Megan Willome
An As-In poem is a good way to define a word with multiple definitions or to explore different aspects of a person’s character. Try writing your own As-In poem. If you like, email me what you write.
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