The Versified Life of Saint Francis  - 492 

Themselves: "This man is a saint, we ought to revere him;
His word has authority; why, even a flock

25Of winged creatures dares not ignore his orders."
Thencea he makes his way to Greccio, a town named after Greece.b
Welcomed there and during his stay by chance
A live leveret was given him: it had been caught
Not by a coursing hound, but by means of a treacherous snare.

30With pity for it he says: "Why, little Brother Hare,
Did you get yourself shackled like that, and you so fleet
A fellow? Why didn't you fly and not get trapped by that vile
Hunter, who tricked you with his net? The examples
Of many should have taught you to be cautious,

35And the lesson is: 'Once bitten, twice shy.'
Now let your own experience make you more careful."c
Having said this first, he calls it to him. And with that
It takes refuge in his bosom and, feeling completely at home,d
Even though it was at liberty to go where it liked,

40Now freed of its bonds it takes not to the open field,
But goes back to the covert, and would lief return
In servitude to Francis, rather than run away free.
Thus was it that the holy man's remarkable mildness
Brought both bird and quadruped a similar mildness.

45Nor did his fervent kindness stop at restoring the birds
To the air, or the beasts to the woods, but put back
The fish in the water. For "beyond belief "e and marvellous
To relate is what happened the time a kindly fisherman
Presented him with a big fish. Taking it more gratefully

50Than if it were gold, and calling it his brother, he said:
"Your blood, Brother, could profit me little. Ps 30:10 [Vulgate, Ps 29:10] Far be it
From me, then, that I should enjoy a moment's tasty pleasure




Legenda Sancti Francisci Versificata, Fontes Franciscani, p.

Inter se: " Quia sanctus is est, meritoque colendus,
Cuius sic vox est authentica, cuius et ipsa

25Turba volatilium non audet omittere iussus ".
Inde petens aliud castrum cui Graecia nomen
Imposuit, susceptus ibi dum forte moratur,
Non cane sed laqueo cursore lepusculus arte
Captus et insidiis, vivus conceditur illi.

30Quem miseratus ait: " Cur vincla, lepuscule frater,
Cogeris ista pati, cum sis ita res fugitiva?
Cur non fugisti, ne decipereris ab isto
Venatore rudi, cuius te rete fefellit?
Multorum tibi debuerant exempla cavere,

35Deceptusque semel ne decipiare secundo;
Propria te reddat nunc experientia cautum ".
Taha praemittens, illum vocat; ille vocantis
Confugit in gremium, factusque domesticus ultro
Quamvis libertas sibi restituatur eundi

40Quo velit, exemptus vinclis non exit in arvum,
Sed redit in latebras, serviturusque iubenti
Francisco mavult regredi quam liber abire.
Sic et aves et quadrupedes notissima sancti
Mansuetudo viri sibi commansuescere cogit.

45Nec solum fervet pietate volucribus auras
Restituente, feris silvas, sed piscibus undas.
Accidit inde fide maius, mirabile dictu,
Cum piscatoris magnum devotio piscem
Praesentasset ei, tanto gratantius auro

50Suscipiens fratremque vocans: " In sanguine, frater,
Utilitas mihi parva tuo consistere posset;
Absit ut ergo meos brevis oblectatio sensus
Incitet, ut longum vitae tibi subtrahat usum:

Francis of Assisi: Early Documents, vol. 1, p. 492