Sample Poems


Saint Bernard's Hymn of Praise to the Virgin Mary

(Paradiso, Canto xxxiii)

Virgin mother, daughter of your son,
More humble and more high than other creatures,
The constant goal of the eternal plan,

You are the one who so raised human nature
That your Creator did not hesitate
To be created in your mortal flesh,

And in your womb was gathered all the love,
The warmth of which fills our eternal peace
And nourishes this flower as it grows.

For us in heaven you are the bright sun
Of charity at noon and to the living
You are the running fountain of their faith.

Lady, you are so powerful and great
That he who would seek grace and not seek you
Is one who would try flying without wings.

Your blessings do not fall only on those
Who ask for them, but many times they come
Freely to those who do not know their need.

In you is mercy, in you is pity,
In you is majesty, in you is gathered
All the good of all created things.

Translation by Dana Gioia


[DANA GIOIA is the author of three collections from Graywolf Press: Daily Horoscope (1986), The Gods of Winter (1991), and Interrogations at Noon (2001). His other books from Graywolf include a translation of Eugenio Montale's Mottetti: Poems of Love (1990), a collection of essays, Can Poetry Matter?: Essays on Poetry and American Culture (1992), and Nosferatu: An Opera Libretto (2001). He is also the Co-Director of the Exploring Form and Narrative Poetry Conference.]


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