Sunday, March 9, 2014

Quia Amore Langueo

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.  Below is the original text of the poem; a modernized English version can be found here.  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 vaile of restless mynd
    I sowght in mownteyn & in mede,
trustyng a treulofe for to fynd:
    vpon an hyll than toke I hede;
    a voise I herd (and nere I yede)
        in gret dolour complaynyng tho,
    'see, dere soule, my sydes blede
        Quia amore langueo.'

Vpon thys mownt I fand a tree;
    vndir thys tree a man sittyng;
from hede to fote wowndyd was he,
    hys hert blode I saw bledyng;
    A semely man to be a kyng,
        A graciose face to loke vnto.
    I asked hym how he had paynyng,
        he said, 'Quia amore langueo.'

I am treulove that fals was neuer;
    my sistur, mannys soule, I loued hyr thus;
By-cause I wold on no wyse disseuere,
    I left my kyngdome gloriouse;
    I purueyd hyr a place full preciouse;
        she flytt, I folowyed, I luffed her soo
    that I suffered thes paynès piteuouse
        Quia amore langueo.

My faire love and my spousëbryght,
    I saued hyr fro betyng, and she hath me bett;
I clothed hyr in grace and heuenly lyght,
    this blody surcote she hath on me sett;
    for langyng love I will not lett;
        swetë strokys be thes, loo;
    I haf loued euer als I hett,
        Quia amore langueo.

I crownyd hyr with blysse and she me with thorne,
    I led hyr to chambre and she me to dye;
I browght hyr to worship and she me to skorne,
    I dyd hyr reuerence and she me velanye.
    To love that loueth is no maistrye,
        hyr hate made neuer my love hyr foo;
    ask than no moo questions whye,
        but Quia amore langueo.

Loke vnto myn handys, man!
    thes gloues were geuen me whan I hyr sowght;
they be nat white, but rede an wan,
    embrodred with blode my spouse them bowght;
    they wyll not of, I lefe them nowght,
        I wowe hyr with them where euer she goo;
    thes handes full frendly for hyr fowght,
        Quia amore langueo.

Maruell not, man, thof I sitt styll,
    my love hath shod me wondyr strayte;
she boklyd my fete as was hyr wyll
    with sharp nailes, well thow maist waite!
    in my love was neuer dissaite,
        for all my membres I haf opynd hyr to;
    my body I made hyr hertys baite,
        Quia amore langueo.

In my syde I haf made hyr nest,
    loke, in me how wyde a wound is here!
this is hyr chambre, here shall she rest,
    that she and I may slepe in fere.
    here may she wasshe, if any filth were;
        here is socour for all hyr woo;
    cum if she will, she shall haf chere,
        Quia amore langueo.

I will abide till she be redy,
    I will to hyr send or she sey nay;
If she be rechelesse I will be gredi,
    If she be dawngerouse I will hyr pray.
    If she do wepe, than byd I nay;
        myn armes ben spred to clypp hyr to;
    crye onys, 'I cum!' now, soule, assaye!
        Quia amore langueo.

I sitt on an hille to se farre,
    I loke to the vayle, my spouse I see;
now rynneth she awayward, now cummyth she narre,
    yet fro myn eye syght she may nat be;
    sum waite ther pray, to make hyr flee,
        I rynne tofore to chastise hyr foo;
    recouer, my soule, agayne to me,
        Quia amore langueo.

My swete spouse, will we goo play?
    apples ben rype in my gardine;
I shall clothe the in new array,
    thy mete shall be mylk, honye, & wyne,
    now, dere soule, latt us go dyne,
        thy sustenance is in my skrypp, loo!
    tary not now, fayre spousë myne,
        Quia amore langueo.

Yf thow be fowle, I shall make thee clene,
    if thow be seke, I shall the hele;
yf thow owght morne, I shall be-mene;
    spouse, why will thow nowght with me dele?
    thow fowndyst neuer love so lele;
        what wilt thow, sowle, that I shall do?
    I may of vnkyndnes the appele,
        Quia amore langueo.

What shall I do now with my spouse?
    abyde I will hyre iantilnesse;
wold she loke onys owt of hyr howse
    of flesshely affeccions and vnclennesse;
    hyr bed is made, hyr bolstar is in blysse,
        hyr chambre is chosen, suche ar no moo;
    loke owt at the wyndows of kyndnesse,
        Quia amore langueo.

Long and love thow neuer so hygh,
    yit is my love more than thyñ may be;
thow gladdyst, thow wepist, I sitt the bygh,
    yit myght thow, spouse, loke onys at me!
    spouse, shuld I always fede the
        with childys mete? nay, love, nat so!
    I pray the, love, with aduersite,
        Quia amore langueo.

My spouse is in chambre, hald ʒoure pease!
    make no noyse, but lat hyr slepe;
my babe shall sofre noo disease,
    I may not here my dere childe wepe,
    for with my pappe I shall hyr kepe;
        no wondyr thowgh I tend hyr to,
    thys hoole in my side had neuer ben so depe,
        but Quia amore langueo.

Wax not wery, myñ owne dere wyfe!
    what mede is aye to lyffe in comfort?
for in tribulacion, I ryñ more ryfe
    ofter tymes than in disport;
    In welth, in woo, euer I support;
        than, dere soule, go neuer me fro!
    thy mede is markyd, whan thow art mort,
        in blysse; Quia amore langueo.

Nota Bene: The 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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