Aves

stfrancis

This is part 1 of 2. Part 2 is here.

Ad natale solum cum solo fratre reversus,
non homines solum, verum pecuaria laudes
divinas efferre iubet, mireque frequenter
accidit ut, quamvis ratione carentia, verbis
eius obedirent intelligerentque loquentem.
dumque iuvat patriae diversos visere fines,
iuxta Bevanium collectas agmine denso
cernit aves varias, quibus exspectare benignum
ipsius accessum placido ducentibus ausu,
causam miratur, et mansuetudinis eius
unde datum sit eis arcanum scire tenorem
quas adiens fratresque vocans: “o nobile”, dixit,
“Primipotentis opus! quantas exsolvere laudes
vos illi de iure decet! qui corpora mundo
vestra superponens, plumis amicivit et alis,
qui vobis planas offendiculoque carentes
in caeli regione vias et in aëre puro
constituit, nostraeque nihil gravitatis habente;
qui quamvis uno produxerit ex elemento
et vos et pisces, vobis tamen altera longe
nobilitas, citior cursus, diffusius arvum,
maior libertas et deliciosior esca.
ergo simul laudate Deum, benedicite nomen
eius, qui tanto vos insignivit honore.”
(Henry of Avranches, Legenda Sancti Francisci Versificata 8.181-204)

Returning to his native soil with only one friar,
He urges not alone humans but the very beasts of the field
To utter the divine praises. And oft did the wonder occur
That though they lacked the power of reason they would obey
His words to them and understand him when he spoke.
His delight was to visit the various parts of his land
And while near Bevagna he espies an assortment of birds
Congregated in a closely knit flock; a mild bravery
Was making them await his kindly approach. Yet he wonders
Why, and how they could come to know the secret
Of his gentleness. Up he comes, calling them brothers,
Said to them: “O noble product of the First and Powerful One
How right and proper for you to ring out his praises!
Up above the world he placed your bodies, covering you
With wings and plumage. He made straight tracks for you,
With nothing to strike against, there in the heavens,
And set you in the pure air, where you are not weighted
Down like us, although out of the same element.
He produced the fish and yourselves, your nobility
Is the greater, your course is swifter, your range
Is wider, greater your freedom, and more delicious your fare.
Together, then, praise the Lord, bless his name,
Who has marked you with so much distinction and beauty.”
(tr. Regis J. Armstrong)

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