In honor of St. Philip Neri’s birthday today, I reproduce here the translations of two of his three surviving sonnets, taken from the Liturgia Latina collection of Oratorian materials. That site reports that the translations from the original Italian are by Fr Henry Ignatius Dudley Ryder, of the Birmingham Oratory.
The soul derives from God her being high,
In one keen instant out of nothing brought,
Not painfully through second causes wrought;
How should she, then, submit to things that die?
To hope, desire, to joy, to enmity;
To her confusion by these guides mistaught,
Of One confronting her she knoweth naught,
One glimpse of Whom would lift her to the sky.
How should the baser nature dare rebel
Against the higher, nor, as meet, consent
To do its bidding, but essay to quell?
Why prison bars the aspiring soul prevent
From leaving earth, above the stars to dwell,
To die to self, to live to God, intent.
I love, and loving must love ceaselessly,
So whole a conquest in me love hath won;
My love to Thee, Thy love to me doth run,
In Thee I live, and Thou dost live in me.
Surely the day is nigh when I may flee
From this dark gaol, for ever to have done
With vanity and blind oblivion,
Where, exiled from myself, I used to be.
Earth laughs and sky, green branches and soft air,
The winds are quiet, and the water still,
No sun before has shed so bright a day;
The gay birds sing, love’s joy is everywhere;
My heart alone has no responsive thrill,
My powers flag and shrink from joy away.
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