The Versified Life of Saint Francis  - 489 

Of his gentleness. Up he comes, calling them brothers,
Said to them: "O noble product of the First and Powerful One
How right and proper for you to ring out his praises!

195Up above the world he placed your bodies, covering you
With wings and plumage.a He made straight tracks for you,
With nothing to strike against, there in the heavens,
And set you in the pure air, where you are not weighted
Down like us, although out of the same element.

200He produced the fish and yourselves, your nobility
Is the greater, your course is swifter, your range
Is wider, greater your freedom, and more delicious your fare.
Together, then, praise the Lord, bless his name,
Who has marked you with so much distinction and beauty."

205O creative force present to nature, O glory not hidden
From creatures, though transcending our senses!
Sylvan hearts respond to the voice of humans
And are gladly mild for the servant of their Maker.
Since he himself is his Creator's perfect subject,

210Every creature bows before him; there's none that's deaf
To word of his, who always the divine voice obeys.
A discernment human comes upon the birds: you would think
They could tell with minds whatever he bade them do.
Of divers kinds are they, yet all one song they sing;

215Or as one and with one accord mounting up the sky,
They melodiously praise the name of God, in the way
That nature gave them;b the air is loud with the chorus,
Re-echoed by the hills, resounding in the woods.c
Delighted with their singing more than with harp or lyre,

220And skywards raising his hands for joy,d
Francis moves In among the birds, still singing on both sides of him,
Remaining still and allowing themselves to be handled,
And he loves to touch them with the hem of his long tunic.
And then he blesses and with dulcet voice gives them leave to go




Legenda Sancti Francisci Versificata, Fontes Franciscani, p.

Quas adiens fratresque vocans: " O nobile ", dixit,
" Primipotentis opus! Quantas exsolvere laudes
Vos illi de iure decet! Qui corpora mundo

195Vestra superponens, plumis amicivit et alis,
Qui vobis planas offendiculoque carentes
In caeli regione vias et in aëre puro
Constituit, nostraeque nihil gravitatis habente;
Qui quamvis uno produxerit ex elemento

200Et vos et pisces, vobis tamen altera longe
Nobilitas, citior cursus, diffusius arvum,
Maior libertas et deliciosior esca.
Ergo simul laudate Deum, benedicite nomen
Eius, qui tanto vos insignivit honore ".

205O rerum natura creans, o gloria quamvis
Sensum transscendens nullis incognita rebus!
Vocibus humanis silvestria corda moventur,
Auctorisque sui gaudent mansuescere servo.
Unde Creatori se subicit, inde creata

210Quisque sibi subicit: nil est quod obaudiat eius
Vocem, qui voci divinae semper obedit.
In volucres humana venit discretio: quidquid
Ille iubebat, eas intellexisse putares.
Nam species quamquam diversae, vox tamen una

215Omnibus, aut uni similis super aethera concors
Effertur, nomenque Dei modulamine laudant,
Quale sibi natura dedit; concentibus aër
Acclamat, colles reboant, silvaeque resultant.
Delectatus eis plusquam citharaeque lyraeque

220Cantibus et laetas tollens ad sidera palmas,
Per medias Franciscus aves utrobique canentes
Fertur, et immotas attrectarique ferentes
Prolixae gaudet tunicae contingere limbo;
Et benedicit eas dulcique licentiat ore.

Francis of Assisi: Early Documents, vol. 1, p. 489