This is my translation of one of my favorite medieval lyrics, "I Have Labored Sore." I take the poem to be a charm or spell of sorts. Each line has a strong caesura, denoted with a double slash in the second translation.


My translation of "I Have Labored Sore"

I Have Labored Sore
anonymous medieval lyric (circa the fifteenth century)
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

1.
I have labored sore and suffered death,
so now I rest and catch my breath.
But I shall come and call right soon
heaven and earth and hell to doom.
Then all shall know both devil and man
just who I was and what I am.

2.
I have labored sore // and suffered death,
so now I rest // and catch my breath.
But I shall come // and call right soon
heaven and earth // and hell to doom.
Then all shall know // both devil and man
just who I was // and what I am.

Original text:

I haue laborede sore and suffered deyeth
and now I Rest and draw my [b]reyght
But I schall com and call Ryght sone
heuen and erthe and hell to dome
and than schall know both devyll and man
what I was and what I am




Poetry by Michael R. Burch The PoetBay support member heart!
Read 24 times
Written on 2021-06-10 at 00:25

Tags Medieval  Caesura 

dott Save as a bookmark (requires login)
dott Write a comment (requires login)
dott Send as email (requires login)
dott Print text


Michael R. Burch The PoetBay support member heart!
I believe Sappho wrote some of her poems as prayers and charms, so there is a precedent. For instance ...

Hymn to Aphrodite
by Sappho
loose translation/interpretation by Michael R. Burch

Immortal Aphrodite, throned in splendor!
Wile-weaving daughter of Zeus, enchantress and beguiler!
I implore you, dread mistress, discipline me no longer
with such vigor!

But come to me once again in kindness,
heeding my prayers, as you did so graciously before;
O, come Divine One, descend once more
from heaven's golden dominions!

Then with your chariot yoked to love's
white consecrated doves,
their multitudinous pinions aflutter,
you came gliding from heaven's shining heights,
to this dark gutter.

Swiftly they came and vanished, leaving you,
O my Goddess, smiling, your face eternally beautiful,
asking me what unfathomable longing compelled me
to cry out.

Asking me what I sought in my bewildered desire.
Asking, "Who has harmed you, why are you so alarmed,
my poor Sappho? Whom should Persuasion
summon here?"

"Although today she flees love, soon she will pursue you;
spurning love's gifts, soon she shall give them;
tomorrow she will woo you,
however unwillingly!"

Come to me now, O most Holy Aphrodite!
Free me now from my heavy heartache and anguish!
Graciously grant me all I request!
Be once again my ally and protector!

"Hymn to Aphrodite" is the only poem by Sappho of Lesbos to survive in its entirety. The poem survived intact because it was quoted in full by Dionysus, a Roman orator, in his "On Literary Composition," published around 30 B.C.
2021-06-10


Coo & Co The PoetBay support member heart!
Yes, it seems likely that this is a charm or spell. We imagine it could be read during a frightening film, accompanied by ominous music. The strong caesura is effective :>)
2021-06-10