Versified Augustine

I don’t know when or where I got it, but in my library I own this wonderful gem of a book called Verses from St. Augustine or Specimens From A Rich Mine by John Searle (Oxford University Press, 1953). It is a collection of Latin quotes from various of Augustine’s works that are then put into English verse. Here is a sample of a couple of favourites:

Quid tibi dabit qui aliunde manus tuas videt occupatas? Ecce Dominus vult dare quae sua sunt, et non habet ubi ponat.–Si vis tenere quod non habes, dimitte quod habes.” Sermo suppos. LXXI. 4, 5.

How can you grasp God’s offering?
Your hands are full, they tightly cling
To coarser stuff—how can you gain
The new and still the old retain?
Let go the dross and grasp the gold,
Both at one time you cannot hold.

This one is particularly good for pastors:

Feliciores sunt qui audiunt, quam qui loquuntur. Qui enim discit, humilis est: qui autem docet, laborat ut non sit superbus, ne male placendi affectus irrepat, ne Deo displiceat qui vult placere homnibus. Magnus tremor est in docente fratres mei…” Enarr. in Ps. L. 13

Safer the lowly pew,
The preacher’s chair how perilous, how few
Fit for their Master’s cause,
Too pleased with man’s applause:
So while I teach I tremble, lest I win
Praise that shall quench the fire of Truth within.


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Filed under augustine, books, patristics, poetry

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