The Versified Life of Saint Francis  - 454 

55A humid and pore-opening wind exposes the ground's surface,
And a south wind melts the snow and the ice
The north wind piled up all around.
Torrents are everywhere,a and water from the mass
Of snow and ice spreads over all the fields; crashing

60Stones are dragged along, and logs and uprooted oaks
From the woods are afloat.b There is no walking on ground
Soggy to the core; all pathways are foul,c all roads
Obscure; bridges are covered by floods or carried away
By the currents. Rushing rivers show no signs of subsiding

65Soon: their constant motion melts objects compressed,
And water gushes from these as they melt. No rapid recession
Is there; rather does the flooding for long fill the land.
What is Francis to do as he lacks food and clothes, and
Neither monks let him stay nor weather move on? He is

70In dire straits from the two in his moment of need: he has
Against him an inflexible host and furious weather. Hard
Enough is the host, but harsher still is the bout of the weather.
For the prior of the cloister as though forced
To conceal it, puts up with the annoyance, but permits

75The wretched guest, caught in the rain with no place to go,
There to shelter till the storm should pass.
While Francis stays on, the south wind still blowing hard,
His poor time-worn hair coat falls to pieces, not a thread
Holding another together. Content with a shroudd

80For a shirt he sits like a clown at the fire:
If he warms his front his back is like ice, and the same
When the other way round. Distressed more by hunger
Than cold, of the bread that he gets he'd eat ten times As much. Nore has he hope of some broth with which

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Legenda Sancti Francisci Versificata, Fontes Franciscani, p.


Humidior ventus aperitivusque pororum
Nudat humi faciem, lateque liquefacit auster
Compactas aquilone nives glaciemque resolvit.

60Undique torrentes abeunt, totosque per agros
Exspatiantur aquae, quas et nivis et glaciei
Congeries liquefacta parit; collisa trahuntur
Saxa, trabesque natant avulsaque robora silvis.
Terra negat gressus humecta medullitus, omnis

65Limes fit limus, omnis via devia, pontes
Occulit effluxus aut obruit impetus undae.
Nec subito tales cessant excurrere rivi:
Successivus enim stipata liquefacit actus
Corpora: sed sicut liquefiunt, sic et ab ipsis

70Eliciuntur aquae. Non ergo repente resedit,
Immo diu talis replet exundantia terras.
Quid Franciscus agat, quem veste ciboque carentem
Nec monachi remanere sinunt, nec tempus abire?
Articulos utrobique graves fert eius egestas:

75Adversantur enim rigor hospitis et furor aurae.
Dirior est hospes, sed durior ingruit aura;
Inde prior claustri quasi dissimulare coactus
Indignum patitur, patitur tamen ut, miser hospes
Interceptus aquis cum nusquam possit abire,

80Operiatur ibi, donec pertranseat unda.
Dum sic Franciscus cogente perendinat austro,
Debile cilicium, quod longa retexuit aetas,
Decidit in partes nec filis fila cohaerent.
Sindone contentus residet quasi lusor ad ignem;

85Dumque fovet ventrem, tergum gelat, et viceversa,
Afflictusque fame gravius quam frigore, panem
Appositum decies uno consumeret esu.
De brodio non est sibi spes, ubi condiat offas;

Francis of Assisi: Early Documents, vol. 1, p. 454