The Versified Life of Saint Francis  - 433 

Gleaming streams and fair meadows he sees, green woods, palaces high.a
The philosopher in him questions why we enjoy these things,
Since the heart's true fatherland is in heaven, not in the world.

130He judges it unfitting and wicked that mundane creation
Should have such a pull upon human minds.
Why are we such fools to hanker after the earthly?
If its loveliness flourishes and its pleasure gives joy,
If its good surfeits our sense and its use intoxicates,

135Still, our soul is not made to be drawn by its lure.
For fair is false there, and pleasures bring pain,
And there a goodness that's bad exists, and use is no use at all.
Troubles, fears, sorrows, all have their origin there. Who without toil
Carried things earthly? Who's not afraid when he owns them? Who

140Doesn't moan at their loss? None! Be he ever so sharp,
Daring or brave. None but he who's learnt to spurn the world
And fix his whole mind on things of eternity.
Whatsoever these arguments prove,
Rating low what is cheap, rating high what is best,

145He cannot forget the staff of the Lord Is 10:24 which, when he sinned
Knocked him down, and in pity in his illness raised him up.
He changes his ways of living and begins curbing the flesh
And sets his heart on purging the sins of the past.
Despite his new thinking, old questions come back to his mind.

150His soul's simple nature is upset by various conflicts within him.
He has a kind of debate with himself: Do more things exist in the mind
Than what he perceives with his sense? There's an unequal strife
In his soul, as sense-perception from beneath assaults the peak of
His reasoning. Sense looks to what may be done, reason to what soon

155May occur.b Sense proceeds not to the end of reality; reason decides
Things beforehand.c Sense holds out feasts, allurements of love,
Wealth and high honor and human approval—but cannot go on any further.




Legenda Sancti Francisci Versificata, Fontes Franciscani, p.

Dum nitidos cernit fluvios, dum florida prata,
Dum virides silvas, dum celsa palatia, sensu
Philosophante stupet, cur oblectemur in istis,

130Cum neque sit mundus, sed caelum patria mentis.
Hoc inconveniens, hoc arbitratur iniquum,
Quod trahat humanas mundana creatio mentes.
Ut quid enim fatui terrena requirimus ista?
Quorum si floret decor arridetque voluptas,

135Et satiat sensum bonitas et inebriat usus,
Non tamen ipsorum ducenda cupidine mens est.
Nam fallax in eis decor et poenosa voluptas,
Et mala consistit bonitas et inutilis usus.
Provenit inde labor, metus et dolor; absque labore

140Quis tulit? absque metu quis possidet? absque dolore
Illa quis amittet? Nullus, quantumque disertus,
Audax seu fortis, nisi qui contemnere mundum
Norit et aeternis totos infigere sen,sus!.-
His argumentis utcumque probantibus, ima

145 Imum sortiri pretium, suprema supremum,
Ille memor virgae Dominin, quo iure nocentem
Straverit et quanta pietate levaverit aegrum,
Mutandos animi mores carnemque domandam
Ducit, et antiquos vovet expurgare reatus.

150Sed, nova concipiens, antiqua recurrere sentit,
Et simplex animae varios natura tumultus
Intra se patiens, secum quasi disputat, utrum
Exsistant pluris res quas intelligit, an quas
Sentit, et adversus apicem rationis iniquas

155Aggreditur lites animae pars infima sensus.
Sensu quid fiat attenditur, et ratione.
Quid mox eveniat. Sensus non perviat usque
Ad rerum fines, ratio res iudicat ante.
Praetendit sensus epulas, praetendit amoris

160Illecebras, praetendit opes et culmen honorum
Et laudes hominum, procedere nescius ultra

Francis of Assisi: Early Documents, vol. 1, p. 433