Bread & Ruminations by Anthony Esolen

Bread & Ruminations

Bede the Venerable, telling the story of Caedmon, the illiterate cowherd who became by divine agency the first man to compose Christian poetry in the form of the ancient Germanic heroic verse, says that the monks would read to him stories from sacred Scripture, and then the man would do something with them. He would, says Bede, like the clean cattle of the old Law, chew the cud. He would ruminate upon them.

That did not mean that he would test them against his own thoughts and feelings. Cows in the field, chewing the cud, do not ask themselves what they feel about clover and hay. There's something much quieter, almost unconscious, about rumination. It's almost as . . .