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 The Versified Life of Saint Francis  - 483 

25Fast roll on the clouds, winds rise out of every quarter,
Waves build up and crash against one another, nowhere
Is there level sea, all is rough;a billows foam with rage.
There's a rush for the ropes, the sailors release the sea-anchor.b
But the storm-wind hisses at the mast enmeshed with ropes,

30And a wave more violent than any wind brings it down.
Water is baled, and the jettisoned anchor bites the sand.c
All the winds that are, still harass this single ship.
She is driven on now by a hurricane easterly,
By sou'wester next, by southerly then, by northerly next.

35One minute she's high over the clouds, another down in the depths.
She is sighing for some haven, yet dreading every harbor.d
No end to that driving tempest as it stirs the sea, and curdles
The atmosphere, scares the sailors and whirls the ship
In circles. But what shall they do when on the whole ship

40No means of subsistence remain to stave off their hunger?
Long is the way that stretches ahead, food for the journey
Is nil; shipwreck looms near, land is far, certain death gazes
From all sides. The fear of shipwreck, even if it ends not
In death, makes seem but slight the sufferings of famine.

45Every kind of death the nearer it approaches, the more
Fear of it is struck; it is then a man peers into
His innermost heart, and bids cares begone.
Yet there is no tempest that can conceal so long a fast
From food. But all that remains is the portion of food

50Given Francis and his brother; and it is this that now
Sustains them all and feeds all, as Francis distributes
It to everyone. So little suffices to relieve the hunger
Of so many;e it lasts, to the amazement of all,
Nor is it finished by continuous eating.

55Just as it resulted from divine power that Jesus
Would feed the five thousand, handing them only five loaves

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Legenda Sancti Francisci Versificata, Fontes Franciscani, p.


25Accelerant nubes, insurgunt undique venti,
Incipit undarum fieri collisio, nusquam
Aequor, ubique fretum, fluctus ardere videntur.
Curritur ad funes, dimittunt carbasa nautae;
Sed malo circumpositis insibilat aura

30Funibus, et vento ruit impetuosior unda.
Eiciuntur aquae, proiectaque mordet arenas
Ancora, sed navem venti nihilominus unam
Exagitant omnes, et nunc impellitur euri
Turbine, nunc zephyri, nunc austri, nunc aquilonis:

35Nunc supra nubes exsurgit, nunc in abyssum
Decidit et portum cupit unum, sed timet omnem.
Ille nec ad tempus mare turbat et aëra densat,
Et nautas terret, et navim gyrat in orbes
Turbo procellarum. Sed donec nulla supersit

40Repressura famem toti substantia navi,
Quid faciant? Restat via longa, viatica nulla,
Naufragium prope, terra procul, mors undique certa,
Naufragiique timor, licet intentantia mortem
Detrimenta famis facit apparere minora.

45Mortis enim quanto genus omne propinquius instat,
Maior eo timor incutitur, totumque cor ad se
Convertens, alias iubet evanescere curas.
Nulla tamen posset tempestas tam diuturnam
Dissimulare famem; sed adhuc ibi sola superstes

50Francisco fratrique suo data portio victus
Omnes sustentat, omnes alit, omnibus unam
Distribuit Franciscus eam: tantillaque tantas
Sufficiens relevare fames, mirantibus illis,
Persistit nec in assiduo consumitur esu.

55Quomodo provenit divinitus ut satiaret
Millia quinque Iesus, panes tantummodo quinque
Apponens piscesque duos, partesque, stupente

Francis of Assisi: Early Documents, vol. 1, p. 483

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