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 The Versified Life of Saint Francis  - 485 

Back,a and he detains him although he's reluctant.
Compelled to return to Assisi, he fits out all he can
Of recruits for Christ's army. With unerring command
He shows the way to the trophy to all who will carry his banner.

90 All this, however, cools down not the passion for virtuous
Death that was born in his heart. Far from it;
For he boards ship, and the ship he commits to wind and wave,
And wind and wave unto God, who as steersman,
Carries him safe to Damietta's coveted harbor.b

95 Christ's faithful and Gentile, the one in turn against the other,
Were locked in great conflict there: Damietta was the constantly
Shifting hub of the war,c and the prize in a future of triumph.d
With neither savage close combate nor hand-to-hand fighting
Could they take it; but only with long-distance bow,

100 With sling and with engines of siege: blows fell like hail.
Nor could they attack it at a much closer range,
For between flows the seventh of its river's branches:f
Its source must be none, or else torrid zone hides it
From every explorer, and eyes of ours may never reach it.g

105 Midway between the armies the waters flowed,
And they grabbed the missiles raining down from either side.
But though the water moved, it never spread out in rings,
And there was no measuring by circles the strokes

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Legenda Sancti Francisci Versificata, Fontes Franciscani, p.


85Febre retardat iter, indignantemque reverti
Cogit et invitum divina potentia servat.
Compulsus redit Assisium, Christique coaptat
Militiae quoscumque potest, certoque ducatu
Dirigit ad bravium cunctos sua signa ferentes.

90Sed necdum propter haec omnia mortis honestae
Refrigescit amor quem praeconceperat, immo
Se navi, navim ventis committit et undis,
Et ventos undasque Deo, moderamine cuius
Excipit incolumem portu Damiata cupito.

95Christicolis contra Gentiles et viceversa
Magnus ibi conflictus erat: Damiataque stabat
Belli causa movens pretiumque futura triumphi.
Nec saevas miscere manus, vel cominus ense
Exserto poterant pugnare, sed eminus arcu,

100Funda, ballista: plagae quasi grando pluebant;
Neve suas possent conferre propinquius iras
Illius intererat fluvii pars septima, cuius
Vel penitus non est vel inexplorabile reddit
Torrida zona caput, oculis impervia nostris.

105Haec exercituum mediatrix unda fluebat,
Telaque suscipiens ab utraque pluentia parte
Motus aquae nullos dilatabatur in orbes,
Et momentorum dimensor circulus usquam
Non poterat fieri, quia punctus ubique fiebat.

Francis of Assisi: Early Documents, vol. 1, p. 485

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