Sunday, March 9, 2014

Quia Amore Langueo (in modern English)

This is an anonymous English poem from the 15th century, which details a dialogue between Christ and the soul, inspired by the Song of Songs, for it is filled with spousal language.  The repeated refrain Quia amore langueo (for love I languish) is taken from the Vulgate (Sgs 5:8).  The stanzas that focus on Christ's sufferings for men make the poem apt for the time of Lent, as we focus even more on Christ's Passion.  The below is a modernization of the original poem (found here), which tries to stick as close to possible to the original; sadly, however, some words are not found in modern English and thus had to be completely changed, sometimes to the detriment of the poetry.  I hope this poem helps lead you deeper into your relationship with our Lord Who loves us and suffered for us "the Cross, the nails, the spear, and death" (St. Simeon Metaphrastes).

In the vale of restless mind,
    I sought in mountain & in meadow,
trusting a truelove for to find:
    upon a hill than took I heed;
    a voice I heard (and near I went)
        in great dolor complaining though,
    'see, dear soul, my sides bleed
        Quia amore langueo.'

 Upon this mount I found a tree;
    under this tree a man sitting;
from head to foot wounded was he,
    his heart blood I saw bleeding;
    A seemly man to be a king,
        A gracious face to look unto.
    I asked him how he had paining,
        he said, 'Quia amore langueo.'

I am truelove that false was never;
    my sister, man's soul, I loved her thus;
Because I would on no wise dissever,
    I left my kingdom glorious;
    I purveyed her a place full precious;
        she flit, I followed, I loved her so
    that I suffered these pains piteous
        Quia amore langueo.

My fair love and my spouse bright,
    I saved her from betting, and she hath me bet;
I clothed her in grace and heavenly light,
    this bloody surcoat she hath on me set,
    for longing love I will not let;
        sweet strokes be these, lo;
    I hath loved ever as I promised,
        Quia amore langueo.

I crowned her with bliss and she me with thorn,
    I led her to chamber and she me to die;
I brought her to worship and she me to scorn,
    I did her reverence and she me villainy.
    To love that loveth is no mastery,
        her hate made never my love her foe
    ask than no more questions why,
        but Quia amore langueo.

Look unto my hands, man!
    these gloves were given me when I her sought;
they be not white, but red and wan,
    embroidered with blood my spouse them bought;
    they will not off, I leave them naught,
        I woo her with them where ever she go;
    these hands full friendly for her fought,
        Quia amore langueo.

Marvel not, man, though I sit still,
    my love hath shod me wonder straight;
she buckled my feet as was her will
    with sharp nails, well though mayest heed!
    in my love was never deceit,
        for all my members I hath opened her to;
    my body I made her heart's bait,
        Quia amore langueo.

In my side I have made her nest,
    look, in me how wide a wound is here!
this is her chamber, here shall she rest,
    that she and I may sleep together.
    here may she wash, if any filth were;
        here is succor for all her woe;
    come if she will, she shall have cheer,
        Quia amore langueo.

I will abide till she be ready,
    I will to her send or she say nay;
If she be reckless I will be greedy,
    If she be dangerous I will her pray.
    If she do weep, than bid I nay;
        mine arms been spread to clasp her to;
    cry once, 'I come!' now, soul, assay!
        Quia amore langueo.

I sit on a hill for to see far,
    I look on the vale, my spouse I see;
now runneth she awayward, now commeth she near,
    yet from mine eye sight she may not be;
    some wait there pray, to make her flee,
        I run tofore to chastise her foe;
    recover, my soul, again to me,
        Quia amore langueo.

My sweet spouse, will we go play?
    apples been ripe in my garden;
I shall clothe thee in new array,
    thy meat shall be milk, honey, & wine,
    now, dear soul, let us go dine,
        thy sustenance is in my scrip, lo!
    tarry not now, fair spouse mine,
        Quia amore langueo.

If thou be foul, I shall make thee clean,
    if thou be sick, I shall thee heal;
if thou aught mourn, I shall comfort;
    spouse, why will thou naught with me deal?
    thou foundest never love so loyal;
        what wilt thou, soul, that I shall do?
    I may of unkindness thee appeal,
        Quia amore langueo.

What shall I do now with my spouse?
    abide I will her gentleness;
would she look once out of her house
    of fleshly affections and uncleanness;
    her bed is made, her bolster is in bliss,
        her chamber is chosen, such are no more;
    look out at the windows of kindness,
        Quia amore langueo.

Long and love thou never so high,
    yet is my love more than thine may be;
thou gladdest, thou weepest, I sit the bye,
    yet might thou, spouse, look once at me!
    spouse, should I always feed thee
        with childish meat? nay, love, not so!
    I pray thee, love, with adversity,
        Quia amore langueo.

My spouse is in chamber, hold your peace!
    make no noise, but let her sleep;
my babe shall suffer no disease,
    I may not hear my dear child weep,
    for with my pap I shall her keep;
        no wonder though I tend her to,
    this hole in my side had never been so deep,
        but Quia amore langueo.

Wax not weary, mine own dear wife!
    what reward is it to live in comfort?
for in tribulation, I reign more rife
    oftener times than in disport;
    In wealth, in woe, ever I support;
        than, dear soul, go never me from!
    thy reward is marked, when thou art dead,
        in bliss; Quia amore langueo.

Nota Bene: The original text is taken from The Oxford Book of English Mystical Verse, compiled by D.H.S. Nicholson and A.H.E. Lee (published by the Clarendon Press, Oxford, 1969 reprint of the 1917 original), pp. 6-10.

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