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MARBOD, born in 1035, of an illustrious family in
Anjou, was chosen bishop of Rennes in 1095, or in the year following, and having governed with admirable wisdom his diocese for thirty years, died in 1125. He has left a large quantity of Latin poetry, in great part the versified legends of saints. His poem De Gemmis was a great favorite in the middle ages, and has been often reprinted. It is perhaps worth reading, not as poetry, for as such it is of very subordinate value, but as containing the whole rich mythology of the period in regard of precious stones and the virtues which were popularly attributed to them. Although his poems are for the most part written in leonine verse, he has shewn in more than one a considerable skill in the classical hexameter.
LIX. ORATIO AD DOMINUM.
EUS homo, Rex cœlorum,
D homo, Rex on
Miserere miserorum ;
Ad peccandum proni sumus,
LIX. Hildeberti et Marbodi Opp., p. 1557.
Tu ruinam nostram fulci
Quid est homo, proles Adæ ?
Ne digneris huic irasci,
Qui non potest mundus nasci :
ETER Damiani, cardinal-bishop of Ostia, was born at
Ravenna in 1002, and died in 1072. Profoundly impressed with the horrible corruption of his age, and the need of a great reformation which should begin with the clergy themselves, he was the enthusiastic friend and helper of Hildebrand in all the good and in all the evil which he wrought for the Church. He has left a considerable body of Latin verse; but, not to say that much of it is deeply tinged with superstitions of which he was only too zealous a promoter, there is little of it, which, even were this otherwise, one would much be tempted to extract save this, and the far grander poem De Gaudiis Paradisi, which will be found a little later in this volume. Yet doubtless his epitaph, written by himself, possesses, with the one doctrinal blemish, which no such composition in that age could well escape, a solemn and a stately grandeur. It is as follows:
Quod nunc es, fuimus: es, quod sumus, ipse futurus;
Vive memor mortis, quo semper vivere possis;
Mente prius carni, quam tibi carne mori.
Mens repetat proprium libera principium:
Surely it is nothing wonderful that he who had so
realized what life and death are, did not wait till the last had stripped him of his worldly honors, but himself anticipated that hour; having some time previously laid down his cardinal's hat, that what remained of his life he might spend in retirement and in prayer. It is only likely that he had already so done, when this epitaph was composed. He died as abbot of Sta Croce d'Avellano in the States of the Church.
LX. DE DIE MORTIS.
RAVI me terrore pulsas, vitæ dies ultima;
Mæret cor, solvuntur renes, læsa tremunt viscera, Tuam speciem dum sibi mens depingit anxia.
Quis enim pavendum illud explicet spectaculum,
Perit sensus, lingua riget, resolvuntur oculi,
Præstò sunt et cogitatus, verba, cursus, opera,
LX. Corner, Prompt. Devot., p. 701; Rambach, Anthol. Christl. Gesänge, p. 238; Daniel, Thes. Hymnol., v. 1, p. 224.
Torquet ipsa reum suum mordax conscientia,
Falsa tunc dulcedo carnis in amarum vertitur,
Quæso, Christe, rex invicte, tu succurre misero,
Cadat princeps tenebrarum, cadat pars tartarea; Pastor, ovem jam redemptam tunc reduc ad patriam, Ubi te videndi causâ perfruar in sæcula.
24. I know no fitter place to append a poem, which has no right to find room in the body of this volume, being, as the reader will observe, almost without any distinctly Christian element whatever, and indeed being little more than a mere worldling's lamentation at leaving a world which he knows he has abused, yet would willingly, if he might, have continued still longer to abuse. But even from that something may be learned; and there is a force and energy about the composition, which make me willing to insert it here, especially as it is very far from common. I would indeed gladly know something more about it, having never met it but in Königsfeld's Latein. Hymnen und Gesänge, Bonn, 1847, a small and rather indifferent collection of medieval Latin poetry, with German translations annexed-a volume edited so carelessly as to inspire me with no confidence in the text, which, however, with the correction of one or two obvious mistakes, I here present to the reader. Certainly the thoughts have a more modern air about them, than that I can suppose the poem rightly included in a collection of medieval verse at all. It bears the not very appropriate title of Cygnus Exspirans, and is as follows:
Parendum est, cedendum est,