The Versified Life of Saint Francis  - 504 

Then the winged kinda and every species of bird;
The land-encircling sea, under the secret stir of the moon,

25And at nature's pivot creating the whirlpool;
The scale-bearing fish and the swimming shellfish shoals,
And the poised land masses, anchored far and wide,b
That heaven's courtesy keeps harnessed at fair distance;
Mountains, too, and valleys, plains and meadows, metals

30And stones, and the sands that are beyond all number;
Springs and rivers, flowers and grasses, woods
And cornfields, gardens and vineyards, and a kind
Yet nobler than all of these, and, beneath it,
The numberless creeping species, and another more energetic

35Than those, the quadrupeds, some tame, some wild;
Then the human race, on which all the rest attend;
Next, distinguished in its ninefold rank, the noble host
Of heaven; and all of nature's works he calls to raise
Their eager praise to God Who first caused things to be.

40Nor does he revere solely what nature made, but also things
Wrought by skillful hands: for writings, wherever found, he
Shows the greatest honor, and ones cast aside puts in a proper
Place. And if perchance sometime an extra letter be written in,
His simple reverence for written words was such

45That he would not suffer it to be deleted.
The verses above paint you a picture of Francis;
But lest a foggier image of him stay in your mind than that
Which you'd rather remember, here is a bodily portrait:c
Of medium height, though closer to shortness,

50Was Francis; but his frame held the heart of a giant.
Black in color, pliant in texture was his hair,
His head sat straight and was round, upward and short his ears,d

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Legenda Sancti Francisci Versificata, Fontes Franciscani, p.


Et genus aligerum, speciesque volatilis omnes,
Tellurem mare circuiens, quod luna latenter

25Incitat, et causans centri natura "Charybdim,
Squamiferos pisces, conchisque natabile vulgus,
Ponderibusque suis libratas undique terras,
Quas aeque distando ligat reverentia caeli,
Montes et valles, campos et prata, metalla

30Et lapides, et quas numerus non prendit arenas,
Fontes et fluvios, flores et gramina, silvas
Et segetes, hortos et vites, nobiliusque
Omnibus his aliud genus, innumerasque sub illo
Reptilium species , aliudque valentius istis

35Quadrupedes, partim domitos partimque feroces,
Et genus humanum cui caetera quaeque ministrant,
Ordinibusque novem distinctum nobile caeli
Agmen, et effectus naturae provocat omnes,
Laudibus ut primam studeant attollere Causam

40Nec solum venerans naturae facta, sed artis
Ficta, decus nimium scriptis ubicumque repertis
Exhibet, et tollens abiecta reponit honeste.
Et si scribatur quandoque superflua casu
Littera, simplicitas ipsius tam reveretur

45Scripturas, ut eam deleri non patiatur.
Supradicta tibi Franciscum carmina pingunt;
Neve tuus dubia teneatur imagine sensus,
Quam potius recolas, hanc corporis accipe formam.
Staturae mediocris homo, vicinior autem

50Exiguo Franciscus erat, sed corde gigantem
Effigians; cuius nigri mollesque capilli,
Erectum sphericumque caput, subvecta brevisque
Auris, defossa sinuosaque tempora, levis

Francis of Assisi: Early Documents, vol. 1, p. 504

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