Friday, September 12, 2008

The Silent Millenium, #8

Here is a literal translation (thanks to of Dies Irae, written by Thomas of Celano in the early part of the thirteenth century. Thomas was a disciple and acquaintance (friend?) of Francis of Assisi from whom I posted a poem a few days ago. He was sent to Germany to found Franciscan orders and monastaries, and returned to Italy a few years before Francis died. (That is how quickly Francis' perspective spread around Europe!) Thomas also wrote three biographies of Francis: Early life, later life, and miracles of Francis. These are on my list to read.

Today I am posting a literal translation of DIES IRAE; tomorrow I will post a more poetic translation (which is more in keeping with the poetic nature of the original). In making these posts, especially when they are translations, I always struggle to decide which version to post. This time I thought that there was enough to be said for these two versions that I want to post them each. And, indeed, they are very different from one another, although one can see that they are each remaining true to a single original.

The final two stanzas are two alternate endings based on two generally accepted versions of the poem.


Day of wrath, day that
will dissolve the world into burning coals,
as David bore witness with the Sibyll.

How great a tremor is to be,
when the judge is to come
briskly shattering every (grave).

A trumpet sounding an astonishing sound
through the tombs of the region
drives all (men) before the throne.

Death will be stunned and (so) will Nature,
when arises (man) the creature
responding to the One judging.

The written book will be brought forth,
in which the whole (record of evidence) is contained
whence the world is to be judged.

Therefore when the Judge shall sit,
whatever lay hidden will appear;
nothing unavenged will remain.

O Thou, God of Majesty,
nourishing brilliance of the Trinity,
join us with the Blessed.

What am I the wretch then to say?
what patron I to beseech?
when scarecly the just (man) be secure.

King of tremendous Majesty,
who saves those-to-be-saved free,
save me, Fount of piety.

Remember, faithful Jesus,
because I am the cause of your journey:
do not lose me on that day.

Thou has sat down as one wearied seeking me,
Thou has redeemed (me) having suffered the Cross:
so much labor let it not be lost.

Just judge of the avenging-punishment,
work the gift of the remission (of sins)
before the Day of the Reckoning.

I groan, as the accused:
my face grows red from (my) fault:
spare (this) supplicant, O God.

O Thou, God of Majesty,
nourishing brilliance of the Trinity,
join us with the Blessed.

Thou who forgave Mary [the sinful woman],
and favorably heard the (good) thief,
hast also given me hope.

My prayers are not worthy,
but do Thou, Good (God), deal kindly
lest I burn in perennial fire.

Among the sheep offer (me) a place
and from the goats sequester me,
placing (me) at (Thy) right hand.

After the accursed have been silenced,
given up to the bitter flames,
call me with the blest.

Kneeling and bowed down I pray,
My heart contrite as ashes:
Do Thou {, my End,} care for my end.

That sorrowful day,
on which will arise from the buring coals
Man accused to be judged:
therefore, O God, do Thou spare him.

Faithful Lord Jesus,
grant them rest.

O Thou, God of Majesty,
nourishing brillance of the Trinity,
join us with the Blessed. Amen.

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