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Paul Claudel—“Magnificat”, the third Great Ode

By James T. Majewski ( bio - articles - email ) | May 21, 2021 | In Catholic Culture Audiobooks (Podcast)

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“Like the new mother, burdened with milk for the child, so the poet with the word within him, addressed to others.”

Paul Claudel was born in 1868 in rural northeastern France. He absorbed the poetry of Walt Whitman and Arthur Rimbaud while in his teens, and experienced a religious epiphany at Notre Dame cathedral during Christmas 1886. Claudel was productive in many literary genres. Besides the Odes, his masterpieces include the dramas The Break of Noon, The Tidings Brought to Mary, and The Satin Slipper. The poet served throughout the world in the French diplomatic corps, and died in 1955.

Five Great Odes constitutes one of the great twentieth-century achievements in lyric poetry. The third Ode, “Magnificat”, recalls Claudel’s conversion, which occurred at Christmas vespers, where the Magnificat was sung, in Notre Dame cathedral in Paris.


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Theme music: 2 Part Invention, composed by Mark Christopher Brandt, performed by Thomas Mirus. ©️2019 Heart of the Lion Publishing Co./BMI. All rights reserved.

James T. Majewski is Director of Customer Relations for, the “voice” of Catholic Culture Audiobooks, and co-host of Criteria: The Catholic Film Podcast. Based in New York City, he holds both a BA in Philosophy and an MFA in Acting. See full bio.

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