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Pax multa diligentibus legem tuam.

Mark a monk,

Disciple of the Holy Father Benedict.

While the blind crowd at idol shrines profane devotions paid,

Believing that by mortal hands immortal gods were made,

This fane with altars ruinous by them was whilom built,

Who offered to the impure Jove a sacrifice of guilt;

But holy Benedict, by God called from the desert lone,

Made pure this port, the statues broke, threw down the sculptur’d stone.

A temple for the living God this idol fane is now:

Let not the faithful soul delay to pay his pious vow;

But hither haste, spite of rough ways; his recompense shall be

That he the heavens opened wide with eye of faith may see.

With hard and toilsome labour’tis that great things are attained:

Within the narrow path alone the blessed life is gained.

While hither coming penitent bow’d down with load of sin,

I felt its weight was gone from me, I felt at peace within;

And I believe in bliss above I too shall have my share,

If thou for Marcus, Benedict, wilt breathe an earnest prayer.

The foolish people once had called this place a citadel

And dedicated, for their gods of marble there to dwell;

But had they wished to find true words with which to stamp the same,

Tartarean Chaos blank, confused, had been its rightful name.

Hither they wandered, blinded fools, unceasing vows to pay

To the death-dealing thundering Jove, acknowledging his sway.

The hall’s high summit, I suppose, he once had struck in vain,

Giving the name of citadel to this now sacred fane.

Against it now shall not prevail gates of eternal Hell:

That which the stronghold was of Death is now Life’s citadel.

From here is stormed the golden gate of the bright starry heaven

While the bless’d crowd sing angel strains to angel voices given.

From here, O Hermit thou dost speak to God the Thunderer true

On mountain heights leading thy quire, the faithful chosen few.

When from a mountain far away to this mount thou didst come

Christ wast thy guide, thy path, whilst thou the desert drear didst roam.

He angels sent to keep thy feet at every cross-way

Lest from the rightful destin’d path thy faltering steps should stray.

He had foretold to thee, just man, alone in desert land,

Avoid these spots, another friend to guide thee is at hand.

Now thou art taken home to him, the mountain’s lurid dye

Takes colour from the lowering clouds which hide its top from view.

The caves drip down with copious tears, the barren grottoes mourn,

The beasts their denizens lament—thou hast left all forlorn.

Thee too the lakes and brooks have wept with deep and unfeign’d grief.

The wood unkempt hath shed for thee each rent and withered leaf.

Fables I speak not when I tell that, following thee anear,

To bear thee faithful company three ravens did appear.

The peoples seek thee out, where thou hast found thy place of rest,

Where thou await’st the holy night, eve of the pious feast.

Like orphans destitute they mourn with hoarse and bitter plaint

Bereft of thy sweet fellowship, thou gentle, perfect Saint.

When thou wert hither brought, behold! the rocks and thorns divide,

And wonder-working fountains spring from the earth’s parched side.

Surely the mount of Christ, is Lord o’er all the mountains round;

And yet beneath thy feet it placed its top—twice-hallow’d ground.

For thee with head submiss it makes all its rough places plain

That thou, O holy Saint of Christ, should’st herald forth His reign.

That they who seek thee, Benedict, should not grow faint and tire,

Its gentle slope spreads out for those who upward do aspire.

‘Tis meet that unto thee the mount itself this honour bring,

Since with thy healing presence thou dost winter turn to spring.

Thou dost lay out its places dry with gardens fair to view;

Thou coverest its sterile rocks with flowers of every hue.

The crags amazed bring forth their crops and harvests not their own,

The greenwood trees bend down with fruits where once was arid stone.

Thus thou dost water hearts of men with healthful streams of prayer

Bidding their vain and barren acts the fruit of grace to bear.

So now, I pray thee, turn the thorns which rend thy Marcus’ breast

To fruits unfading of good works, earnest of endless rest.

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