Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Sequence for the Virgin

A royal scepter and a crown
of purple, a fortress
strong as mail!  O fortress
of maidenhood, scepter
all verdant:

The way you bloomed would have startled
the grandsire of us all,
for the life father Adam
stripped from his sons (praise
to you!) slid from your loins.

You never sprang from the dew,
my bloosom, nor from the rain --
that was no wind that swept
over you -- for God's
radiance opened you
on a regal bough.  On the morn

of the universe he saw you
blossoming, and he made you
a golden matrix, O maid
beyond praise, for his word.

Strong rib of Adam!  Out of you
Gold scupted woman:  the mirror
of all his charms, the cares
of his whole creation.  So voices

chime in heaven and the whole
earth marvels at Mary
beloved beyond measure.

Cry, aloud!  A serpent
hissed and a sea of grief
seeped through his forked
words into woman.  The mother

of us all miscarried.
With ignorant hands she
plucked at her womb and bore
woe without bounds.

But the sunrise from your thighs
burnt the whole of her guilt away.
More than all that Eve lost
is the blessing you won.

Mary, savior,
mother of light:
may the limbs of your son be the chords of the song
the angels chant above.

~ Hildegard of Bingen
in Praying with the Benedictines,
a Window on the Cloister

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