"Love follows knowledge."
"Beauty above all beauty!"
– St. Catherine of Siena

Friday, March 22, 2013

Faith Filled Friday: O Passio Magna

Today you get a twofer, my weekly Faith Filled Friday (an old prayer in Latin perfect for Passion week) and my humble attempt at a poetic translation of the prayer to English.

The prayer comes from Fr. Mark Daniel Kirby, a prior at a Benedictine Monastery who blogs at Vultus Christi.  By the way, hat tip to Joyce who blogs at The Unprofitable Servant for pointing out Fr. Mark’s wonderful blog for me a few weeks ago.

The prayer is titled from the first line, “O Passio Magna," and you can read the prayer's history from Fr. Mark’s blog entry.  Here's the Latin prayer.

O passio magna!
O profunda vulnera!
O inestimabilis dolor!
O largissima effusio sanguinis!
O abundantissima effusio lacrimarum!
O dulcis dulcedo!
O mortis amaritudo!
Da mihi vitam aeternam.

Fr. Mark provides what he says is one variant of a translation:

O great Passion!
O profound wounds!
O immeasurable sorrow!
O most copious shedding of blood!
O most abundant outpouring of tears!
O surpassing sweetness!
O death suffered in every bitterness!
Give me eternal life.

Well, I began thinking.  If there are variations, then I don’t think it would upset anyone if I came up with one more variant, and while at it give it a more poetic feel.  Here's my translation:
O great Passion
With wounds arcane and deep,
With boundless pain,
Diffusive spray of blood;
O tears, bursting tears,
Sweet-scented sweetness
In most bitter death,
Give me eternal life.
My thoughts on the translation were such.  Straight translation of Latin tends to lack full context that the Latin typically implies.  So I tried to expand a little in some lines.  I avoided the over use of the repeated expressive interjection “O.” That doesn't do well in English.  I also have some diction differences that I don’t think alter the meaning, but I think makes it more interesting English.  The only word I translated with a different meaning is in the third line, “dolor,” which I translate as “pain” rather than “sorrow.”  I can’t claim to being anywhere near an expert in Latin, so I can’t say if “sorrow” is accurate.  I'm pretty sure "pain" is a legitimate option.  Either way, I think “pain” fits the meaning better.
Hope you liked it, and feel free to critique it.

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