Reading Room Log: Happy Easter from the Cuala Press

"Christ on the Road", Text by Susan Mitchell and Illustration by Jack B. Yeats,  Box 3, Folder 5, from the Cuala Press Printed Materials Collection, MS2005-35, John J. Burns Library, Boston College.

“Christ on the Road”, Text by Susan Mitchell and Illustration by Jack B. Yeats, Box 3, Folder 5, from the Cuala Press Printed Materials Collection, MS.2005.035, John J. Burns Library, Boston College.

Every Easter, Christians are reminded of the story of Jesus through music and scripture, but rarely do we see this story told through cards.  When one thinks of sending cards, Christmas is usually the first holy day to come to mind.  The Cuala Press Printed Materials Collection at the John J. Burns Library, however, has some beautiful examples of Easter cards.   One such card is entitled “Christ on the Road”.  This card has a very simple image that balances the more complex poem accompanying it.  The illustration shows Jesus dressed in red garments that contrast with the colors in the background.  The idea of this image is to draw the eye to Jesus and celebrate his life on earth.  The poem describes the life of Jesus and recognizes the work he helped perpetuate.   This card asks us not only to celebrate the Resurrection of Jesus on Easter, but also the sacrifices of the martyrs who died to defend their Christian faith.

"Easter", Text by Susan Mitchell and Illustration by Jack B. Yeats, Box 3, Folder 3, Cuala Press Printed Materials Collection, MS2005-35, John J. Burns Library, Boston College.

“Easter”, Text by Susan Mitchell and Illustration by Jack B. Yeats, Box 3, Folder 3, Cuala Press Printed Materials Collection, MS.2005.035, John J. Burns Library, Boston College.

Another Cuala Press Easter card contains a more elaborate illustration, featuring an ornate portrayal of Jesus.  He is shown in a brightly colored garment, which complements the gray clouds, birds, and angels around him.   The poem balances the image, though, by being much simpler.  The poem describes Jesus being welcomed home to heaven with “starbells” clashing and “Myriads of stirring wings”.  Rather than celebrating the earthly Christ, this poem celebrates the divine nature of Christ.

"In Each Gold Flower", Text by Temple Lane and Illustration by Dorothy Blackham, Box 3, Folder 6, Cuala Press Printed Materials Collection, MS2005-35, John J. Burns Library, Boston College.

“In Each Gold Flower”, Text by Temple Lane and Illustration by Dorothy Blackham, Box 3, Folder 6, Cuala Press Printed Materials Collection, MS.2005.035, John J. Burns Library, Boston College.

Lastly, pictured to the right is a Cuala Press card with a pastoral scene of the Irish countryside entitled “In Each Gold Flower”.  This image depicts the renewed promise of spring and life after winter and of the risen Christ and his forgiveness of our sins.  The poem accompanying the illustration further reminds us of this dual vow.  Each gold flower within the poem whispers a promise that although the darkness is conquering and the “winds swept cold across the frozen clay,” spring and light will come again.  The gold flowers are just beginning to bloom, showing that new life is possible.  This is a parallel to the idea that Jesus rose from the dead and had a new life in heaven.  The poem ends describing this sentiment exactly, “A whisper calls each heart to greet the Spring, / And joins the family of Christ the King/ On Easter Day”.  This card reminds us through image and words that spring will come despite the feeling that winter will last forever.  These cards tell the Easter story in a unique way; reminding the reader that even the simplest words and images can show us a great deal.  For while many of us celebrate with dinners and baskets of goodies, there is a deeper meaning to the holiday, one of hope, faith, forgiveness, remembrance, and love.   The Cuala Press Printed Materials Collection is available for research in the Burns Library Reading Room.  Please visit this website to view the Burns Library’s hours.  Contact the Burns Library Reading Room by phone at 617-552-4861 or by e-mail at burnsref@bc.edu if you have any questions. Happy Easter!

  • Danica Ramsey-Brimberg, Burns Library Reading Room Student Assistant and History & Irish Studies, Class of 2013

About John J. Burns Library of Rare Books and Special Collections at Boston College

The University’s special collections, including the University’s Archives, are housed in the Honorable John J. Burns Library, located in the Bapst Library Building, north entrance. Burns Library staff work with students and faculty to support learning and teaching at Boston College, offering access to unique primary sources through instruction sessions, exhibits, and programming. The Burns Library also serves the research needs of external scholars, hosting researchers from around the globe interested in using the collections. The Burns Library is home to more than 200,000 volumes and over 700 manuscript collections, including holdings of music, photographic materials, art and artifacts, and ephemera. Though its collections cover virtually the entire spectrum of human knowledge, the Burns Library has achieved international recognition in several specific areas of research, most notably: Irish studies; British Catholic authors; Jesuitica; Fine printing; Catholic liturgy and life in America, 1925-1975; Boston history; the Caribbean, especially Jamaica; Nursing; and Congressional archives.
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