NaPoTraMo 4: Stabat Mater
In honour of Easter Sunday, today’s NaPo is is a piece of Christian poetry, describing Mary’s lamentation at the Cross – Stabat Mater.
The form is intricately rhymed, internally and between lines, a feature almost unknown in classical Latin poetry but much beloved of the medieval Church. (I do wonder why it never caught on earlier: Latin is considerably easier to rhyme than English given its plethora of regular endings.) The chiming multisyllabic rhymes give Stabat Mater a rather wonderful music, and I decided to try and preserve its strictures in the translation.
The comparative difficulty of rhyme in English was the biggest problem when rendering this, and I had to resort to a couple of repeats and one very dodgy rhyme to make everything fit. The other problem was making up the syllable count: for example Latin maerebat translated as English mourned, leaving me with two extra syllables to fill in. For these reasons, and general fluency of the English, the translation gets rather free in places.
I give you Stabat Mater.
Stood the grieving mother weeping,
company the high cross keeping,
while her son hung crucified;
for his spirit hurt and grieving,
darkening the world in leaving,
that a sword let from his side.
O what sadness and affliction
was that final benediction,
mother of the only Son!
How she mourned and grieving tore her,
how she trembled as she saw the
pains of the illustrious one.
Who would not give way to weeping,
if he saw Christ’s mother keeping
such a suffering vigil there?
Who could not be saddened with her,
noticing that pious mother
mourning for her child there?
For his people’s sins lamented,
saw him wounded and tormented,
and subdued by whip and chain;
saw her child sweet and only
dying, desolate and lonely,
when his spirit passed away.
Mother ours, affection’s wellspring,
now I know the strength of grieving,
let me weep as you did then;
let my heart burn bright inside me,
in the love of Christ to guide me,
please him as I may. Amen.
Translates the Stabat Mater of Jacopone de Todi. The Latin text can be found here.