Happy 525th, St. Philip

Today is the 525th anniversary of Philip Melanchthon’s birth in 1497. Here’s a poem to celebrate.

The poem, a tribute to Melanchthon after his death–that is, his heavenly birthday–is by Theodore Beza and comes from his Icones, a set of tributes to Reformers from various countries. I posted a non-poetic translation of the poem in 2015, during a period when I had been working on the Icones. (You can see some of the results of that in this volume.)

But now, for today’s celebration, I’ve put it into verse. The meter of Beza’s poem is the First Pythiambic, which consists of alternating lines of dactylic hexameter and iambic dimeter. For the English version, I’ve used unrhymed alternating iambic pentameters and iambic tetrameters.

So, here it is.

Et tu igitur tandem tumuli sub mole repostus,

     Die o Philippe, nunc iaces:

Et quam invidisti vivus tibi tute quietem,

    Cunctis quietem dum paras,

Ipsa tibi cura et sancti peperere labores,

    Charum o bonis cunctis caput.

At tu funde rosas, funde isti lilia tellus, 

    Ut lilia inter et rosas,

Quo nil candidius fuit et nil suavius unquam,

    Recubet Melanchthon molliter.

Et gravis huic ut sis caveas, iuvenisve, senexve,

    Qui nemini vixit gravis. 

And now at last you lie entombed in earth, 

    Reposing, O Philip divine;

The living rest you envied for yourself,

    While you provided rest for all,

In death your holy labors have obtained,

    O captain dear to all good men.

But, gentle earth, pour roses forth and lilies

    So that among the lilies and

The roses softly may Melanchthon lie,

    Than whom no bloom has brighter shone.

And, whether young or old, take care you not

    Weigh down the one who weighed down none.


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