Mappa Mundi

This medieval vellum sheet's
where humankind’s geography,
history and destiny meet.

Christ, enthroned above the world, 
surveys creation: the saved enter heaven,
the damned are dragged to hell.

Eden’s gates are firmly closed.
Observed by the serpent, Eve’s alone,
hand outstretched, no fruit enclosed.

Kim M. Russell, 1st May 2023

Image found on Wikimedia

It’s Monday and time to Quadrille with De over at the dVerse Poets Pub, where we are mapping out our poems of precisely 44 words, including one word we provide. This week, De wants us to become Poet-Cartographers, and put those pithy pieces on the map.

She has given us quotations from poems and examples of poems that are about or include maps: Sylvia Plath’s ‘Insomniac’, ‘True Map’ by Brian Andreas, and ‘Map’ by Wislawa Szymborska.

The Hereford Mappa Mundi is one of the world’s unique medieval treasures. It measures 1.59 x 1.34 metres (5’2” by 4’4”) and is constructed on a single sheet of vellum (calf skin). Scholars believe it was made around the year 1300 and shows the world as it was understood in Christian Europe at the time.

40 thoughts on “Mappa Mundi

  1. I love that we are writing about maps and I also wrote a poem today including Adam and Eve.

    I love how beautifully you describe the image in your poem. I love geography, history, and destiny meeting. Such a simple and profound concept at the same time.

    I also enjoy the way you set up the last line, without considering the image, one could read it as the serpent belonging to her, which is just as profound as the rest.

    I looked for further information about the map. Did you know there is a unicorn on it?😳

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, Melisssa. Yes, I did know about the unicorn, but wasn’t sure if I should include. I firmly believe that unicorns existed. Why would medieval monks and artists have included them in their paintings if they didn’t exist? 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Sad shape, the world now. If I had to rely on that ” Hereford Mappa Mundi” I would have to learn map ancient cartography. Brilliant folk those of the day.
    It was a fun poem, I met something new. (not saying I learned it)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I remember comparing maps when I was at school and being amazed at the difference between them even though they were only a century apart. Maps from the Middle Ages are so interesting.


      1. Do you believe what the Bible says about Adam? I find the misogynistic tropes that are recycled in all scriptures sadly interesting. It all begins with Eve, so there’s lots of fuel for study there.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Eve’s outstretched hand spoke to me. Beautifully done. I agree with your comment about Eve. The Jewish mystics had an entirely different take on the story. Not the same old trope. They presented it in a whole new light.

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.