The reader is advised to take a little at a time, and pause. In these pages something of the depth of this desire for quietude emerges, as does the joy of its eventual acquisition. This volume, if it is to have its effect, needs to be approached in the same unhurried mood in which it found its way to the page.
The author was formed in the Carthusian life in a small monastery in France, by now closed. Subsequent events brought him back to the Celtic fringe, whence he was sent to Rome for further studies, and where he completed the doctorate in 1999.
His desire to return to the eremitic life was respected, and he is now in a little hermitage in County Meath, where time and silence make not only interior prayer but also poetic rumination a serious possibility.
The contents of the present volume represents the poetic journal of a Welsh monk who was formed for many years in the Carthusian life in France but largely because of his poetic activity was obliged to transfer to another monastery, where that particular aspect of life was felt to be less incongruous. Except for the periods in which in France the activity was not encouraged, the journal has been maintained since 1980.
Much of the earlier work was analysed in detail by Dr Eva Schmid-Mörwald, in a brilliant doctoral thesis, subsequently published in the Analecta Cartusiana in 1994, under the title of The Lyre and the Cross.
The author’s one desire from school days was immediate entry into a monastic novitiate, in a strictly contemplative house. Monastic life in French houses being often of an intense and powerful brand, he opted for the Carthusian life in a small house, now closed, unfortunately, as it was an excellent monastery. However, a certain opposition on the part of the Mother-house made it difficult to combine the monastic life with that of poetic and musical composition.
In the present volume, which covers the period 2000-2009, the sweat involved in such pushing emerges. The period here covered is one in which many upheavals took place. That explains why the early part of the work is situated in an Italian and French context (French being often the language of day to day life in the monastery), while the final part is situated in a more Celtic (Irish-Welsh) atmosphere.