The Melody of Love

The Melos amoris stands as the most daring literary achievement of medieval England’s most influential mystic, Richard Rolle. Full of autobiographical glimpses and spiritual rhapsodies, this sustained étude in alliterative, rhythmic Latin prose contains Rolle’s first public account of his profoundly sensory mystical experience. As Rolle defends himself against controversy, he offers detailed descriptions of the spiritual fire, sweetness, and song that characterize his mysticism, amid a labyrinthine weave of scriptural exegesis, personal narrative, and inspired utterance. Among his longest and most literary works, the Melos amoris has long been derogated as a frivolous gaud of the hermit’s youth. Read more generously, it offers a key to the corpus of Rolle’s Latin writings and opens crucial insight into his mystical discipline and the spiritual practices and experiences that stemmed from that discipline in the later Middle Ages.

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