Feast of St Laurence the Holy Martyr & Archdeacon of Rome
THE SUBJECT of my poem is not fiction, though I use the poetic art:
I will tell of things that happened, reliably, without a poet’s deceit,
For far be it from a servant of Christ to utter lies.
May such techniques delight the pagans as they worship what is false
But our only skill is our faith, our only music Christ
Who showed that a wonderful concord of unbalanced harmony
Was of old achieved in Himself, a harmony He bestowed on one body
When He assumed human nature, He who combined
The life-giving God with virtue infused, uniting two in Himself
For He is God, Son of God the Father, who owes it not to grace
But to nature that He is sole heir of the Father Almighty,
Alone possessing as His own what He presents as gift
To those to whom kindly faith has granted a heavenly reward.
He then is truly our poetic inspiration,
He is the true David who restored the lyre of this body
Which had lain for long, its frame decaying;
Taking up the silent instrument, its strings broken
By original sin, the Lord repaired it for His own use
And when mortals had been joined with God
He restored the whole world to its original form
So that all things might be new, and the dust removed from them.
God Himself was the master intending to restore this lyre
And He Himself hung His lyre upon the tree of wood,
To repair it by means of the cross which destroyed the sin of the flesh.
Thus He constructed from a variety of peoples
A single human lyre tuned to the melody of heaven,
Fixing together all kinds of people into one body.
Then when the strings were plucked with the plectrum of the Word,
The sound of the Gospel instrument filled the whole world
With praise of God; Christ’s golden lyre echoed throughout the world,
Producing one melody out of innumerable tongues,
While the new songs respond to God with matching strings.
—St Paulinus of Nola, Birthday Poem 20