Dies Iræ.

[ The Dies Iræ” is perhaps better known than anything else within the
whole range of medieval literature. Its author was probably Thomas of
Celano, a small town near the lake Fucino. The grand and terrible effect
with which in Goethe’s Faust certain stanzas of this poem are made to fall
like thunder on the ear of poor guilty Margaret, who has come, alone and
friendless, among worshippers purer than herself, is familiar to almost
every one.
The translation now offered was written under the impression that all
existing English versions deviated more or less from the metre of the
original. This impression was not quite correct. There is a version by Dr.
Noris, with which, however, the present translator is unacquainted, which
is metrically faithful. It is with no desire to compete with this, but from a
conviction that where the end to be attained is so high, every conscientious
effort has its value, that the following attempt is published.]
Day of anger, day of wonder,1
When the world shall roll asunder,2
Quenched in fire and smoke and thunder !3
O vast terror, wild heart-rending4
Of that hour when Harth is ending,5
And her jealous Judge descending ;6
When the trumpet’s voice astoundeth,7
Through earth’s sepulchres reboundeth,8
Summons universal soundeth !9
Death astonished, Nature shaken,10
Sees all creatures, as they waken,11
To that dire tribunal taken.12
Lo ! the Book, where all is hoarded13
Not a secret unrecorded :14
Every doom is thence awarded.15
So the Judge, when He arraigneth,16
Every hidden thing explaineth :17
Nothing unavenged remaineth.18
In that fiery revelation19
Where shall I make supplication,20
When the just hath scarce salvation ?21
Fount of Love, dread King supernal,22
Freely giving life eternal,23
Save me from the pains infernal !24
This forget not, sweet Life-giver,25
Me thou camest to deliver :26
Cast me not away for ever !27
Seeking me thy sad life lasted,28
On the cross death’s pains were tasted ;29
Let not toil like this be wasted !30
God of righteous retribution,31
Grant my sins full absolution32
Ere thy wrath’s last execution !33
Lo, I stand with face suffusèd,34
Groaning, in my guilt accusèd ;35
Spare my soul, with sorrow bruisèd !36
By the Magdalene forgiven,37
By the dying robber shriven,38
I too cherish hope of heaven.39
Though my prayers are fall of failing,40
Save me, of Thy grace availing,41
From the pit of endless wailing !42
On thy right a place provide me,43
With thy chosen sheep beside me :44
From the goats, good Lord, divide me !45
When to penal fire are driven46
Those who would not be forgiven,47
Call me with thy saints to heaven !48
Kneeling, crushed in heart, before thee,49
Sad and suppliant I adore thee :50
Hear me, save me, I implore thee !51