The Versified Life of Saint Francis  - 442 

150He approaches, he enters, a new guest into this ancient house.a
He falls at the feet of the priest and offers to have the chapel,
Now ruined, rebuilt. The priest suspects bluff, for he had seen him
Hard at his trading, blazing with zest to make profit; nor was it
Seemly so much acquired through hard work be given away on a sudden impulse.

155Francis is insistent and refuses to take back his offer, says he will stay;
On to a window his bundle he throws, and the money
Rings as it strikes the stonework.
So, rid of his riches, under a poor roof his dwelling he makes;
None otherwise than just to be fed there perchance,

160And continue his life in those sparing confines.
Strange rumors by now do the rounds in Assisian streets.
His true friends are sad; his false friends are smiling;
His father, too, is hearing the whispers,
And he hardly needs to be told to suppose

165That the laughs of the crowd are on Francis.
O tongues of humans!b As you hasten to revile,
Rage it is, or malice, gives you edge!
Francis won honor and fame by his virtue,
For modesty makes bold to shoulder the "burden of honor."c

170But you with reproach have replaced his fame, his virtue with vice;
Nor will you say he is mistaken; rather will you say he is mad.
Not a friend of his spares him disparagement; all declare him insane,
And opinion conjures up reasons: some think he drank of the poppyd
Of Lethe,e some that he tasted slick brain-dulling hemlock.

175Nor think they that sorcery had no act in what's happened—
So that he whom the "glory of the world" was wont to ensnare
Is now in ignominy of his own contriving. It seems to some




Legenda Sancti Francisci Versificata, Fontes Franciscani, p.

Accedit, veteremque larem novus introit hospes,
Seque sacerdotis pedibus provolvit et offert

165Unde reaedificet cellam iam paene ruentem.
Illudi putat ille sibi, quia viderat illum
Mercibus intentum desiderioque flagrantem
Lucra reportandi; nec enim donanda videntur
Affectu subito tot parta laboribus aera.

170Nolens Franciscus revocare quod obtulit, instat,
Seque moraturum promittit, onusque fenestrae
Inicit, et saxis allisa pecunia tinnit.
Abiectis ita divitiis, sub paupere tecto
Haud aliter residet, quam si nutritus ibidem

175Esset, et exiguo gaudet producere vitam.
Rumor adhuc dubius iam. se diffundit in omnes
Assisii vicos; veri tristantur amici,
Ficti subrident. Audit pater ipse susurros,
Istud opinari vix ulla voce coactus

180Quod de Francisco perhibet derisio vulgi.
O linguas hominum! quas in convicia pronas
Aut furor aut livor acuit! Franciscus honorem
Et famam meruit virtute, pudorque subire
Audet honoris onus, partes infamia famae,

185Virtutisque vices vitium; nec dicitur error
Esse quod aggreditur, immo dementia. Nullus
Parcit amicorum quin fili detrahat, omnes
Insanire ferunt, et fingit opinio causas.
Sunt qui Lethaei sumpsisse papaveris haustum,

190Aut cerebrum gustasse cati succumve cicutae
Arbitrentur eum; nec enim contingere credunt
Absque veneficiis, ut quem sic gloria mundi
Irretire solet, sit nunc inglorius ultro.
Sunt quibus apparet quod numquam sie pretiosis

195Vilia praeferret, iucundis tristia, lucris

Francis of Assisi: Early Documents, vol. 1, p. 442