The Versified Life of Saint Francis  - 482 

The Eighth Book

HIS FERVOR AT DAMIETTA IN CROSSING THE NILE TO CONVERT THE ENEMY, HIS SPEECH TO THE BIRDS UPON RETURN, RELEASING THEIR SYLVAN SONG IN PRAISE OF THEIR LORD.

UNFINISHED initiatives withstood by the elements, and his wings
Being clipped, Francis suffered with only the greatest grief.
He now spots a ship making ready to give her sheets to the winds,a
And sailors preparing hastily to voyage to Ancona.

5When he asks the seamen for passage they refuse to let him
On board, not because he can't pay the fare, nor for the weight
In the ship, nor for any wild weather, but for shortage
Of food, of which they'd scarce enough to be brought in the stern
For themselves. As for him, he'd no worries, as Christ lends

10A hand, and he secretly enters the ship as the sailors are absent
And hides down below in among horses. There for the needy pairb
A rich man had stored up provisions and instructed his vassal
To the effect that as often as meal times came round
He was to give out to them as much as they needed to eat.

15The seafarersc return, the anchor is weighed, ropes
Are hauled, cables are loosed and hoisted the sails;
First the plank to the stern is away, lastly that to the prow.
The breeze fills the great fold of sail;d under increasing
Pull the mast is groaning and threatening to fall.

20Steering-oar straight at the stern follows the flying
Prow, and swifter than any bird the ship sails over the waterse
And is almost swallowed up in her own slip-stream.
Two hundred leaguesf it seemed traversed when all at once
A pall of darkness covers all the sky.

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Legenda Sancti Francisci Versificata, Fontes Franciscani, p.


Liber VIII

Indicat octavus Damiatae quomodo fervens ad convertendos Nilum transiverit hostes; Qualiter in reditu volucres affatus, earum in laudem Domini silvestria solverit ora.

Vota retardari non absque gravamine summo
Passus et infectis elementa resistere coeptis,
Navim Franciscus ventis dare vela parantem
Cernit et Anconam nautas properanter ituros.

5Poscentem revehi renuunt admittere nautae,
Non pro defectu nauli, pro pondere navis,
Pro feritate virum, sed pro defectibus escae,
Quae vix sufficiat ipsis in puppe vehendis.
Ille nihil metuens, Christo praestante ducatum

10Et navim tacite, nautis absentibus, intrans,
Inferius latet inter equos, ubi dives egenis
Danda recondiderat alimenta, suoque clienti
Dixerat, ut quoties vescendi tempus adesset:
Assignaret eis quodcumque requireret usus.

15Pontilegae redeunt, avellitur ancora, tractis
Funibus, attollunt depressi vela rudentes.
Prima locum puppi cedit ratis, ultima prorae.
Ingentes replet aura sinus, sub pondere malus
Accrescente gemit, detrimentumque minatur.

20Remigii puppis moderamine recta volantem
Consequitur proram, velocior alite navis
Sulcat aquas, proptioque fere perit obruta vento.
Iamque videbatur leucas peragrasse ducentas,
Cum totus subito tenebris obducitur aër.

Francis of Assisi: Early Documents, vol. 1, p. 482

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