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Document Details :
Title: Het geheugen van Hadewijch
Author(s): WILLAERT, Frank
Journal: Ons Geestelijk Erf
Volume: 80 Issue: 1 Date: Maart 2009
Both in his impressive book on Hadewijch’s imagery and in various articles, Joris Reynaert has demonstrated, firstly, that the Bible and patristic and courtly literature deeply influenced Hadewijch’s literary work, and secondly, how she adapted the themes and terms she borrowed for her own purpose. In this article, Reynaert’s conclusions are tied in with a passage in Letter 24, in which Hadewijch urges her addressee to take what she reads or hears ‘into her heart’, advice she no doubt put into practice in her own life. She stored whatever she read or heard in her heart, the seat of her memory. She meditated upon it and assimilated it, so that it became part of her own mental equipment. In the second part of this article, several passages from the songs are analysed in order to show to what extent and how exactly memory and meditation steered Hadewijch’s writing process. The important role of memory in the compositional process may help us to understand how Hadewijch, in spite of the absence of an existing tradition of mystical poetry in the vernacular, was able to create a poetic ‘register’ of her own, which enabled her to compose 45 songs which sounded both new and familiar at the same time.