Héloïse d’Argenteuil (From Heloise to Abelard)

Héloïse d’Argenteuil was a French theologian and philosopher in the early middle ages, circa 1100’s. She is most famous for her love saga with her professor, and fellow theologian Peter Abélard. The story of their love is a sad affair. It will make you weep. It starts out like this, Heloise was cared for by her wealthy uncle, who had a high position in court. He hired Abelard as her professor for theology. They fell in love during this period and she became pregnant with his son. Abelard refused to marry her in the open because of his station in the Clergy. It would have stripped him of his titles, but at the same time it made Heloise appear as a whore. Her uncle was furious with Abelard’s refusal to marry Heloise properly, and after many threats ended up having him attacked and castrated. Abelard survived his attack, which is rare for that time period. Unable to see each other henceforth, they maintained their relationship through letters. These letters inspired Alexander Pope’s The Rape of the Lock, coincidentally one of the verses of this work is in the movie Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. 

You raised these hallowed walls; the desert

smiled,

And paradise was opened in the wild.

eternal-sunshine-of-the-spotless-mind

       In these deep solitudes and awful cells,

       Where heavenly-pensive contemplation dwells,

       And ever-musing melancholy reigns;

4.    What means this tumult in a Vestal’s veins?

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            How happy is the blameless Vestal’s lot!

           The world forgetting, by the world forgot:

             Eternal sunshine of the spotless mind!

200     Each prayer accepted, and each wish resigned;

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                         And saints with wonder heard the vows I made.

115       Yet then, to those dread altars as I drew,

              Not on the cross my eyes were fixed, but you:

               Not grace, or zeal, love only as my call,

      And if I lose thy love, I lose my all.

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