“Learn to love as I love thee.”

1403 Nativity Conrad_von_SoestReal Epiphany was on 6 January.  In the traditional calendar, however, we are in the Season of Epiphany.  Hence, I’ll go on talking about Epiphany for a while.

At one of the blogs I now eagerly follow, A Clerk of Oxford, I read a beautiful poem from the 14th century but in modern spelling.  You can read more detail about the original over there.

Note well that this Christmas poem (still appropriate for Epiphany) is a dialogue of the Christ Child and Mary.  Christ starts in the first stanza and Mary follows through.

[Infant Christ] Learn to love as I love thee.
In all my limbs thou mayest see
How sore they quake for cold;
For thee I suffer all this woe,
Love me, sweet, and no mo; [no other]
To thee me take and hold.

[Mary] Jesu, sweet son dear,
In poor bed thou liest now here,
And that grieveth me sore.
For thy cradle is a bier,
Ox and ass are thy fere, [companions]
Weep may I therefore!

Jesu, sweet, be not wroth;
I have neither scrap nor cloth
Thee in for to fold;
I have but a piece of a lappe, [the skirt of a garment]
Therefore lay thy feet to my pap
And keep thee from the cold.

Cold thee taketh, I may well see;
For love of man it must be
For thee to suffer woe;
For better it is thou suffer this
Than man should lose heaven’s bliss.
Thou must ransom him thereto.

Since it must be that thou be dead
To save man from the fiend,
Thy sweet will be done.
But let me not stay here too long:
After thy death me underfonge [receive]
To live for evermore. Amen.

How about that first line, Christ speaking to Mary and, in her, to us?

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. Venerator Sti Lot says:

    Thank you!

    That first line reminds me of another couple medieval ones, from William Langland’s Piers Plowman, where the poet asks the figure of Nature, “Counsel me, Kynde, what craft be best to learn? / ‘Learn to love,’ quoth he, ‘and leave all other.’ “

  2. Joe in Canada says:

    What a great poem! Another classic for the season, if much more recent: “The Last Visitor”. http://www.catholic.co.il/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=745:the-last-visitor&catid=46:cat-kehilla-faithful&lang=en&Itemid=154

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