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The Soul of a Woman

November 29, 2022

Edith Stein (1891 – 1942) was German philosopher who converted to Catholicism, became a Discalced Carmelite nun. She died in Auschwitz and later was canonized a martyr and saint. Before and after becoming a nun, she was prolific writer; her writings on being a woman are highly regarded.

These words come from her essay “The Spirituality of a Christian Woman” in the book Woman: Edith Stein Collected Works.  In this poem, as in the essay, Edith Stein speaks of a woman’s soul, and by doing so, offers us an eternal truth – a woman’s whole self can be formed by Christ’s very life and called to do the works of Christ in the world. 

The Academy of American Poets define a found poem as the following:

“Found poems take existing texts and refashion them, reorder them, and present them as poems. The literary equivalent of a collage, found poetry is often made from newspaper articles, street signs, graffiti, speeches, letters, or even other poems. A pure found poem consists exclusively of outside texts: the words of the poem remain as they were found, with few additions or omissions. Decisions of form, such as where to break a line, are left to the poet.”

The Soul of a Woman

A found poem using the words of Edith Stein. 

The soul of a woman

must be expansive,

open to all human beings,

quiet so no weak flame will be extinguished, 

warm so not to benumb fragile buds,

[and]

empty of itself

in order that extraneous life

may have room in it; 

and finally 

mistress of [herself]

and [her] body,

so that the entire person is 

readily at the disposal of every call. 

Response:

My soul would be shriveled to stillness;

my eyes staring into waters of Narcissus and

my life bound to nothingness—

but you, Jesus,

would not let it be so. 

Light and life and freedom 

you poured into me.

My soul is rooted and enlarged 

because of you, Christ.

As you are for me, 

may I be for those you give me. 



Featured image is courtesy of Oliver Pacas via Unsplash. We are grateful for his generosity.



 

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