The Wisdom Of The English Mystics
Literature by Robert Way
In his introduction to The Wisdom of the English Mystics, Robert Way outlines the path of contemplation peculiar to England and tells us something of its principal followers. His selection from their writings–both poetry and prose–brings out their essential teaching and shows how it has manifested itself, among Catholics and Protestants alike, over the centuries. A solitary life and gentle soul characterize the insular mystics. From the twelfth-century Aelred of Rievaulx to Evelyn Underhill in our own time, they have sought personal communion with God. Yet we know nothing of the author of The Cloud of Unknowing, probably the best-known book of its kind in the English language, only that it was written in fourteenth century, the period which produced the greatest flowering of mystic spirits. Other works quoted are the thirteenth-century Ancrene Riwle and the sayings and verse of William Blake, George Herbert, Henry Vaughn, George Fox, and William Law, to name just a few.