Saturday, June 4, 2011

A Poem to the Blessed Virgin

                                      "Virgin Mary in Prayer" by Albrecht Durer

On Saturday, the day traditionally dedicated to Our Lady, we offer Petrarch's "Hymn to the Virgin," which Macaulay called "perhaps the finest hymn in the world."

O Virgin fair, who in the sun arrayed,
And crowned with stars, to a greater Sun did’st bring
Such joy that He in thee His light did hide!
Deep love impels me that of thee I sing.
But how shall I begin without thy aid,
Or that of Him who in thy womb did bide?
I call on one who answereth alway
When simple faith we show.
Virgin, if extreme woe
In things of earth thou wouldst with joy repay,
In my hard struggle be thy succour given!
O hear me while I pray,
Though I be clay,
And thou the queen of heaven!

O virgin sage and of the blessed number
Of those wise virgins honoured by their Lord,
Yea, thou the first with brightest lamp of all!
Thou shield of the afflicted from the sword
Of evil fortune and in death’s deep slumber,
Rescue and victory come at thy call;
Thou refuge from the passions, blind and dark,
Of frail mortality!
Virgin, in agony
Thy fair eyes saw each nail and cruel mark
Upon the body of thy precious Son.
Look on my desperate state!
To thee for help I run.

O virgin pure, perfect in every part;
Daughter and mother of thy gentle Child,
Sunbeam on earth, bright gem in heaven’s array!
The Father’s Son and thine, O undefiled,
Through thee (window of heaven that thou art!)
Came to redeem us at the final day!
And God among all dwellings of the earth
Selected thee alone,
O virgin, who the moan
Of hapless Eve hast turned to joy and mirth;
O make me worthy His unending love,
Thou who in glory drest,
Honoured and blest,
Art crowned in heaven above.

O virgin holy, filled with every grace;
Who by thy deep and true humility
Didst rise to heaven, where thou my prayer dost hear!
Thou hast brought forth the Fount of Piety,
The Sun of Justice, by whose shining grace
An age in errors dark grows bright and clear.
Three precious names united are in thee:
Mother and wife and child!
O virgin undefiled,
Bride of the King whose love hath set us free
From all our bonds and our poor world hath blest;
By His wounds’ holy balm
O may He calm
My heart and give it rest!

Virgin, who wast in all the world unique
Enamouring heaven with thy comeliness,
No other near or like thy perfect state!
Pure thoughts and gracious deeds thy life did bless,
And thou thy fruitful maidenhood and meek
A living shrine to God didst consecrate!
By thee my sad life can with joy resound,
If thou but ask thy Child,
Virgin devout and mild,
Where sin abounded grace shall more abound;
My spirit’s knees in orisons I bend,
Be thou my guide, I pray;
My devious way
Bring to a happy end.

O shining virgin, steadfast evermore!
Thou radiant star above life’s stormy sea,
And every faithful mariner’s trusty guide!
In this wild tempest turn thy thoughts to me.
See how I am beset! No helm nor oar!
What shrieks of death are near on every side!
My soul despairing puts her trust in thee.
Sin will I not deny;
Virgin, to thee I cry,
Let not my pangs delight thine enemy!
’Twas to redeem our sins, remember well,
That God took on afresh
Our human flesh
Within thy virgin cell.

Virgin, how many were the tears I shed,
How many years I prayed and longed and sighed!
What was my guerdon? Grief and sorrow vain.
Since I was born where Arno’s stream doth glide,
From land to land my restless feet have sped,
And life was naught but bitterness and pain.
For mortal charms and gracious ways and dear
Have clogged my heart and mind.
O virgin holy, kind,
Delay not. Haply ’tis my final year.
My days like flying arrows speed away!
In sin and misery
They swiftly flee
And death alone doth stay.

Virgin, I mourn for one that now is clay,
Who, living, filled mine eyes with many a tear,
Yet of my thousand woes not one could see!
And had she known them all, the griefs that were
Would still have been; since any other way
To me were death, to her were infamy.
Thou queen of heaven, O goddess virginal—
Thus may I name thee aright—
Virgin of clearer sight
Than ours, thou knowest all! Though others fail,
The task is easy for thy powers supreme;
End, then, my grief and woe,
Thy grace bestow,
And my poor soul redeem.

Virgin, my only hope doth rest in thee!
I know that thou wilt help my sad estate.
Forsake me not upon death’s dark defile!
Look not on me but Him who did create!
Though I be naught, His image lives in me,
And that must win thy care for one so vile!
My Gorgon sin hath turned me into stone.
Vain humours I distil.
Virgin, do thou but fill
With tears devout this aching heart and lone;
That at the end my love may holier be,
Without the taint of earth,
Which at its birth
Was wild idolatry.

O Virgin meek, and of all pride the foe;
Thy lowly birth win thee to hear my song;
Have pity on an humble contrite heart!
If with such constancy I could so long
On one frail mortal clod my love bestow,
What might I do for thee, God’s counterpart!
If by thy hand I now may rise again
From out my low estate,
Virgin, I consecrate
Unto thy service tongue and heart and brain,
My thoughts, my songs, my sighs and anxious fears!
Guide me in better ways
And crown with praise
These new desires and tears.

My hour draws on, it is not far away
(Thus fleeting time doth run);
Virgin, thou only one!
Upon my heart remorse and death do prey!
Unto thy Son, true man, true God, commend
My soul; to Him I cleave.
May He receive
My spirit at the end.

No comments:

Post a Comment