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C.D. Warner, et al., comp. The Library of the World’s Best Literature.
An Anthology in Thirty Volumes. 1917.

Anicius Severinus Boethius (d. 524): The Hymn of Philosophy

By Roman Poets of the Later Empire

From the ‘Consolation of Philosophy’: Translation of Harriet Waters Preston

UNDYING SOUL of this material ball,

Heaven-and-Earth-Maker! Thou who first didst call

Time into being, and by thy behest

Movest all things, thyself alone at rest,

No outward power impelled thee thus to mold

In shape the fluid atoms manifold,

Only the immortal image, born within

Of perfect beauty! Wherefore thou hast been

Thine own fair model, and the things of sense

The image bear of thy magnificence!

Parts perfect in themselves, by Thy control,

Are newly wrought into a perfect whole;

The yokèd elements obey thy hand:

Frost works with fire, water with barren sand,

So the dense continents are fast maintained,

And heaven’s ethereal fire to earth restrained.

Thou dost the life of threefold nature tame,

To serve the parts of one harmonious frame,—

That soul of things constrained eternally

To trace thy image on the starry sky,

The greater and the lesser deeps to round,

And on thyself return. Thou too hast found

For us,—thy lesser creatures of a day,

Wherewith thou sowest earth,—forms of a clay

So kindly-fragile naught can stay our flight

Backward, unto the source of all our light!

Grant, Father, yet, the undethronèd mind!

A way unto the fount of truth to find,

And, sought so long, the Vision of thy Face!

Lighten our flesh! Terrestrial vapors chase,

And shine in all thy splendor! For thou art

The final Rest of every faithful heart,

The First, the Last! of the expatriate soul

Lord, Leader, Pathway, and Eternal Goal!