I found the three “Miracles of the Virgin” tales to be interesting and even entertaining to read, but in each poem, at least one line or description had me writing “ew” in the margins.  In the first, “The Monk Who Could Only Learn Ave Maria,” I felt humorous pity for the poor guy who could only learn two words of his prayers.  Then I was taken a bit aback when after his death “they dug and discovered the lily root coming right out of his mouth” (23).  They are happy about this discovery, but I found it sort of gross that they dug up his grave and saw a flower growing from the corpse.  In the second poem the poor beggar boy is found “ful depe idrouned in fulthe of fen” and “very foully spattered” as a side note tells us.  He throat has also been split open (which, surprise, a lily is later found in).  Finally, in the last poem, the Virgin Mary breast feeds the sick monk and this is described as “marvelous,” but to me seemed sort of disgusting.  Obviously, the Virgin is rewarding those, whether in life or death, who sang or spoke praises to her.  But they really left me wondering how these things would have been read and received at the time.  Would medieval readers have found these descriptions empowering, humorous, or just gross? And is disgust an emotion??

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