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Bernard of Cluny

FL. 1140. Monk and poet. Little is known of the author of De Contemptu Mundi except that he lived in the famous monastery of Cluny and was possibly of British extraction. His poem of about 3,000 lines, written in dactylic hexameters and beginning Hora novissima, satirizes contemporary monastic corruption and contrasts the transient pleasures of this life with the peace and glory of heaven. He attributed his mastery of the difficult meter to divine inspiration. First found in a thirteenth-century manuscript (now in the Bodleian), extracts from it were translated in ballad metre by Neale* in 1851 and 1858. Stanzas from these form the basis of the hymns “Brief life is here our portion”; “For thee, O dear, dear country”; “Jerusalem the golden”; and “The world is very evil.”

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