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I am a medievalist and an adjunct college instructor in the humanities at Union College. My research includes medieval theologies of history, text/image relationships in visionary and mystical texts, and the writings of the twelfth-century Doctor of the Church, St. Hildegard of Bingen. I am also a translator of medieval Latin and German texts, especially as relate to my research. My translation of Hildegard's Book of Divine Works is available from Catholic University of America Press here. I completed a Master's in Medieval Studies at the University of Notre Dame in 2010, a Fulbright Fellowship in Germany in 2008, and a B.A. in Classics and German at Boston College in 2007.

Sunday, January 14, 2007

DaH ll. 543-662: Thou wilt yet to us both bequest...

After waking her parents with her tears, the girl is scolded by them, but she will not be silenced. Her impassioned plea, however, is met with her mother's heart-wrenching response (mothers: keep the tissues handy for this one). If you are interested, the full Middle High German text can be found here, and an online knowledge database can also be found here. Also of note is the odd numbering at the end of the passage: it's the result of a new manuscript that was found after the original critical edition had been established; rather than renumber the poem (which would cause havoc, since all of the old references are keyed to the old lines numbers), the editors simply added the lines in as a, b, etc.

Once again, any and all feedback is requested and welcomed.

Introduction & lines 1-132
Lines 133-162
Lines 163-232
Lines 233-348
Lines 349-458
Lines 459-542

They turned about to her to see
And said, “See here, what troubleth thee?
545 Quite foolish art thou in excess,
That on thy self such great distress
Of such lament thou didst impend,
Which no man can bring to an end.
Why willst thou not us sleep allow?”
550 So they began to scold her now:
What good to her were such lament
Which no man could yet then prevent,
Avert, abolish, or defeat?
So thought they that the maiden sweet
555 Again was silenced and was still.
Unknown to them then was her will.
So answered them the maiden bold:
“As hath my lord the story told,
So can one heal quite well his pain.
560 Forsooth, ‘less ye will me restrain,
So am I good to be his cure.
I am a maid, my will is sure.
Before I see him cease to live,
I will my life first for him give.”
565 Then were by these words and review
Her mother and her father, too,
Dejected, saddened, and distraught.
His daughter he bid and besought
That she would leave her story’s word
570 And promise only to her lord
That, which for him she could secure,
For this could not be done by her.
“O daughter, thou art but a child,
And thy grand promises are wild
575 And in this matter far too grand.
This canst thou not achieve as planned,
As hast thou here to us portrayed.
On death hast thou thine eyes not laid.
Whene’er the time is come for thee,
580 That from it there no freedom be,
Thou must succumb to death’s long reign,
And couldest thou it then attain,
Thou would’st yet rather keep life whole:
Ne’er would’st thou come in worser hole.
585 Now close thy mouth, this speech be gone!
And if thou wilt from this time on
E’er more this utterance allow,
It shall be felt upon thy brow.”
So he believed that then was she
590 By both his threats and ev’ry plea
To silence brought: but he could not.
His daughter answered him this lot:
“Howe’er young be I, father mine,
Retain I yet the insight fine,
595 That I the pain from teller’s breath
Well fathom that the body’s death
Is sharp, severe, and quite intense.
Whoe’er yet then a long time hence
Should live with hardships light or fell,
600 For him it, too, is not so well;
For when he struggleth here along
And beareth in his old years long
With great distress his body slow,
Then must he death yet undergo.
605 Then if his soul is lost, forlorn,
So were he better left unborn.
Up to this point have come my days,
For which I will e’er God give praise,
That I can now my young life give,
610 That I might life eternal live.
Ye ought not now my task to still.
For both myself and you I will
Thereby exceeding good collect.
Alone can I us well protect
615 From harm and suffering and pain,
As shall I now to you explain.
We have now goods and honour’s side:
This doth our lord’s intent provide,
For ne’er caused he us injury
620 And ne’er from us took property.
So long as he should stay alive,
So shall our situation thrive.
And if we let him die away,
So must we perish and decay.
625 I will protect him for our sake
With this pure act, which I shall make,
By which we all are saved from woe.
Permit me this: it must be so.”
Her mother spoke with crying raw
630 When she her daughter’s staidness saw:
“Remember child, my daughter dear,
How great my pains and how severe,
Which I have suffered for thy sake,
And let me better reward take
635 Than have I heard thee here explain.
Thou wilt mine heart sever in twain.
Subdue a bit for me thy call.
Yea, wilt thou thy salvation all
Against God and for us remit?
640 Why dost thou not recall his writ?
Yea, bade he, ordered, and he taught
That mother and to father ought
One render love and honour earned,
And promised, too, this in return,
645 That soul’s salvation would there be
And life on earth of long degree.
Thou would’st thy life, as sayest thou,
For both our joy give and allow:
Thou wilt yet to us both bequest
650 A life of deep distress unblest.
Thy father and I happily
Live when ‘tis for the sake of thee.
652a What good to us are goods and life,
652b What good are worldly pleasures rife,
652c When thou dost not with us remain?
652d Thou ought not bring us grief and pain.
Yea, should’st thou, lovely daughter mine,
Be for us both our joy divine,
654a Our love without sharp suff’ring’s care,
654b Our eyes’ refulgent, brilliant flare;
655 Be of our lives a dear delight,
Among thy kin a flower sprite,
In our old age the staff of love.
But if thou lettest us above
Thy grave of thy transgressions stand,
660 Thou must from grace of God’s right hand
Be e’er cut off and disavowed:
For both of us this earnest thou.
662a If, daughter, good wilt thou us be,
662b Then thou should’st from thy story flee
662c And thy intent for our Lord’s grace,
662d The story which I’ve heard thee trace.”

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