The Golden Legend: VI. The School Of Salerno

A traveling Scholastic affixing his Theses to the gate
of the College.

_Scholastic._ There, that is my gauntlet, my banner, my shield,
Hung up as a challenge to all the field!
One hundred and twenty-five propositions,
Which I will maintain with the sword of the tongue
Against all disputants, old and young.
Let us see if doctors or dialecticians
Will dare to dispute my definitions,
Or attack any one of my learned theses.
Here stand I; the end shall be as God pleases.
I think I have proved, by profound research
The error of all those doctrines so vicious
Of the old Areopagite Dionysius,
That are making such terrible work in the churches,
By Michael the Stammerer sent from the East,
And done into Latin by that Scottish beast,
Erigena Johannes, who dares to maintain,
In the face of the truth, the error infernal,
That the universe is and must be eternal;
At first laying down, as a fact fundamental,
That nothing with God can be accidental;
Then asserting that God before the creation
Could not have existed, because it is plain
That, had he existed, he would have created;
Which is begging the question that should be debated,
And moveth me less to anger than laughter.
All nature, he holds, is a respiration
Of the Spirit of God, who, in breathing, hereafter
Will inhale it into his bosom again,
So that nothing but God alone will remain.
And therein he contradicteth himself;
For he opens the whole discussion by stating,
That God can only exist in creating.
That question I think I have laid on the shelf!

(_He goes out. Two Doctors come in disputing, and
followed by pupils._)

_Doctor Serafino._ I, with the Doctor Seraphic, maintain,
That a word which is only conceived in the brain
Is a type of eternal Generation;
The spoken word is the Incarnation.

_Doctor Cherubino._ What do I care for the Doctor Seraphic,
With all his wordy chaffer and traffic?

_Doctor Serafino._ You make but a paltry show of resistance;
Universals have no real existence!

_Doctor Cherubino._ Your words are but idle and empty chatter;
Ideas are eternally joined to matter!

_Doctor Serafino_. May the Lord have mercy on your position,
You wretched, wrangling culler of herbs!

_Doctor Cherubino_. May he send your soul to eternal perdition,
For your Treatise on the Irregular Verbs!

(_They rush out fighting. Two Scholars come in._)

_First Scholar_. Monte Cassino, then, is your College.
What think you of ours here at Salern?

_Second Scholar_. To tell the truth, I arrived so lately,
I hardly yet have had time to discern.
So much, at least, I am bound to acknowledge:
The air seems healthy, the buildings stately,
And on the whole I like it greatly.

_First Scholar_. Yes, the air is sweet; the Calabrian hills
Send us down puffs of mountain air;
And in summer time the sea-breeze fills
With its coolness cloister, and court, and square.
Then at every season of the year
There are crowds of guests and travellers here;
Pilgrims, and mendicant friars, and traders
From the Levant, with figs and wine,
And bands of wounded and sick Crusaders,
Coming back from Palestine.

_Second Scholar_. And what are the studies you pursue?
What is the course you here go through?

_First Scholar_. The first three years of the college course
Are given to Logic alone, as the source
Of all that is noble, and wise, and true.

_Second Scholar_. That seems rather strange, I must confess.
In a Medical School; yet, nevertheless,
You doubtless have reasons for that.

_First Scholar_. Oh yes!
For none but a clever dialectician
Can hope to become a great physician;
That has been settled long ago.
Logic makes an important part
Of the mystery of the healing art;
For without it how could you hope to show
That nobody knows so much as you know?
After this there are five years more
Devoted wholly to medicine,
With lectures on chirurgical lore,
And dissections of the bodies of swine,
As likest the human form divine.

_Second Scholar_. What are the books now most in vogue?

_First Scholar_. Quite an extensive catalogue;
Mostly, however, books of our own;
As Gariopontus' Passionarius,
And the writings of Matthew Platearius;
And a volume universally known
As the Regimen of the School of Salern,
For Robert of Normandy written in terse
And very elegant Latin verse.
Each of these writings has its turn.
And when at length we have finished these,
Then comes the struggle for degrees,
With all the oldest and ablest cri
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Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow was an American poet and educator whose works include "Paul Revere's Ride", The Song of Hiawatha, and Evangeline. more…

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"The Golden Legend: VI. The School Of Salerno" Poetry.net. STANDS4 LLC, 2019. Web. 19 Nov. 2019. <https://www.poetry.net/poem/18866/the-golden-legend:-vi.-the-school-of-salerno>.

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