Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Jesu Dulcis Memoria

Jesu dulcis memoria
Dans vera cordis gaudia:
Sed super mel et omnia
Ejus dulcis praesentia.

Jesus, sweet remembrance
Giving true joy of hearts:
But above honey and all things
Is his sweet presence.

Nil canitur suavius,
Nil auditur jucundius
Nil cogitatur dulcius
Quam Jesus Dei filius.

Nothing more pleasing is sung,
Nothing more joyful is heard,
Nothing more sweet is thought,
Than Jesus the son of God.

Jesu spes penitentibus,
Quam pius es petentibus!
Quam bonus te quaerentibus!
Sed quid invenientibus?

Jesus, hope of the penitent,
How merciful you are to those who seek!
How good to those who ask you!
But what to those who find?

Nec lingua valet dicere,
Nec littera exprimere:
Expertus potest credere,
Quid sit Jesum diligere.

The tongue does not have power to say,
Nor writing to express:
Experience can believe
What it is to love Jesus.

Sis Jesu nostrum gaudium
Qui es futurus praemium
Sit nostra in te gloria
Per cuncta semper saecula. Amen.

Jesus, may you be our joy,
Who are our future reward;
Let glory be ours in you
Always, through all ages. Amen.

* * *

The translation is mostly mine, with a little help from Wikipedia. (Yes, I know, I'm getting addicted to posting translations. They're so much fun! Do read the Latin, though, even if you don't understand it: it's wonderfully poetic, and I couldn't convey that at all without messing unpardonably with the meaning.) I'm posting this in honour of the feast of the Holy Name of Jesus, which I think was yesterday.

As a complement to it, I'm including this other text on the subject of the power of names, this one from The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. (I saw the movie over the weekend and liked it. But this is from the book.)

* * *

'They say Aslan is on the move -- perhaps has already landed.'

And now a very curious thing happened. None of the children knew who Aslan was any more than you do; but the moment the Beaver had spoken these words everyone felt quite different. Perhaps it has sometimes happened to you in a dream that someone says something which you don't understand but in the dream it feels as if it had some meaning -- either a terrifying one which turns the whole dream into a nightmare or else a lovely meaning too lovely to put into words, which makes the dream so beautiful that you remember it all your life and are always wishing you could get back into that dream again. It was like that now. At the name of Aslan each one of the children felt something jump in its inside. Edmund felt a sensation of mysterious horror. Peter felt suddenly very brave and adventurous. Susan felt as if some delicious smell or some delightful strain of music had just floated by her. And Lucy got the feeling you have when you wake up in the morning and realize that it is the beginning of the holidays or the beginning of summer.

* * *

It takes a very powerful person to have his power overflow into his name, so that the name itself has a power of its own. Yet this is the case with the Holy Name of Jesus: "a name above any other name."


Santiago said...

We name our babies Jesús in latinoamerica!

Sheila said...

Over here we tend to think of that as a little disrespectful. We kind of like having Christ have a monopoly on Names of Power.

Santiago said...

Not power, LOVE.

In Latin America, we are not so tightly wound. That's why we have better poets. And have more fun, generally speaking.

Sheila said...

I love Spanish poetry and all -- the Spanish language lends itself to being overdone, but in a nice way, if you know what I mean, and it can be extremely beautiful. But better? I'll never grant you that. Most of the stuff on this blog is English, and I'll defend poets like Hopkins and the Brownings and Tennyson and Chesterton over just about any other poets in the world.

Perhaps it has to be your first language to appreciate it fully -- for Spanish poetry as well as English.

More fun? I may grant you that. Most Americans would consider the Latin American concept of "fun" too chaotic, but there's no doubt y'all enjoy it.

Leah said...


This is my first visit to your blog and I have really enjoyed reading here tonight.

It seems we have several similar literary interests, for instance: Elizabeth Barret Browning, G.K. Chesterton, and especially Gerard Manley Hopkins, who is probably my all time favorite poet.

I found your site by doing a blog search for "Sonnets of the Portuguese," btw.


Leah said...

Oops, I meant to say "Sonnets From the Portuguese." Sorry. :)

Sheila said...

:) Glad to find people who share my taste! That's one of the major purposes of this blog. For another Hopkins addict, you should go to my friend Meredith's blog at http://basiame.blogspot.com. If possible, she's even crazier about Hopkins than I am. (In fact, she nearly got in a duel with our Latin professor over him.) He really is amazing: he makes the English language do all sorts of new and beautiful things.