Sunday, 28 May 2017

On the day of death - Peter Damian

Ah, thou bringest dreams of terror,
Thou of life my latest day,
Bringest dreams that shake my pulses,
Fill my bosom with dismay;
Sunk in solemn gloom and anguish
I behold thy parting ray.

Deep the fear that moves the spirit
In her final agony,
When her course on earth is measured,
And she struggles to be free,
Ready for her lonesome journey,
Turning to eternity.

Feeling fails, the tongue is silent,
From the eye the light is flown;
Pants for breath the feeble bosom;
All its powers are overthrown;
From the body, worn and livid,
Every earthly grace is gone.

Then the spirit's earthly story,
Every thought and word and deed,
Like a scroll unrolls before her,
And she needs must see and read;
Comes a voice of fear accusing,
Forcing her to hear and heed.

Stung by sharp remorse of conscience,
Writhes the guilty breast in pain;
Mourns the hours for penance wasted,
Never to return again,
Trembling tearful, ever fearful
Lest her grief is late and vain.

Carnal joys of seeming sweetness
False and foul and hollow show;
Now she sees the fleeting pleasure
Followed by eternal woe,
Sees her dreams of earthly glory
Sink to visions vile and low.

And the soul that seeks the Saviour,
Lifted to celestial light,
Spurns the bonds of clay that bound her
To the regions of the night,
Spurns her prison bonds, and rising,
Takes in joy her heavenward flight.

Gentle Jesus, King Almighty,
Be thou merciful to me;
In my latest hour be near me,
Let thy love my bulwark be;
Keep me from the power of evil;
Lift my soul aloft with thee.

From the prince of darkness shield me,
From his shadows bleak and cold;
Lead me as thy sheep, O Shepherd,
To the safety of thy fold;
Bring me to thy blessed vision,
To thy heavenly halls of gold.

Peter Damian (988 - 1072) Italy
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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