Sunday, 5 February 2017

The nature of Man - Alain de L'Isle

In this world each mortal creature
      Shows our life in form and feature,
      From the very dawn of birth;
Even as in a mirror showeth
      How the man appeareth, groweth,
      And his sad return to earth.

Lo, the rose in spring arises
Till her splendid glow surprises:
In her charm a lesson lie;
Out of silent gloom she cometh,
Bursts the tender bud and bloometh;
Then at evening sinks and dies.

So all flowers, their sweets exhaling,
Fail and faint, their beauty paling,
Dying while they seek the light;
Like the flowers, both youth and maiden
Rise and shine and fall, o'erladen
By the burden and the blight.

In the spring of life, our morning,
Joys are born, the hour adorning;
Like the rose we rise and bloom;
Ah ! how soon the sunny splendour
Fades away, while twilight tender;
Closes o'er us in the tomb.

In his highest glow and glory
Man's estate is transitory;
Speeds the hour and comes decay;
Dead the flower, the bloom is blighted,
Day is done, and man, benighted,
Falls and changes into clay.

Life is all a road of danger,
Man, therein, a passing stranger
Hastening onward to the grave;
Like the grass upon the meadow,
Like the day that dies in shadow,
Or the stream in ocean's wave.

Death is with us at the starting
Of our journey; at the parting
We behold his sullen face;
Still we bow beneath his burden;
Grief and labour are the guerdon
He awards us in the race.

See thy state, O Man, and wonder!
Learn the law thou livest under;
But be also swift to scan
These great ends of thy creation, —
Simple faith, thy own salvation,
And the love of God and man.

Give no rein to guilt or languor,
Curb thy will, refrain from anger,
And let pride assume no sway;
And O God of earth and ocean,
Be our guide in every motion
Lest we wander from Thy way.

Alain de L'Isle (1128 - 1203) France
Translated  by Daniel Joseph Donahoe
Source: Early Christian hymns, Series II : translations of the verses of the early and middle ages
by Daniel Joseph Donahoe, 1911


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