Thanks to Cologero for letting me post poetry at Gornahoor.
A Transliteration & Addition to the Latin Dies Irae
The Dies Irae was authored by Friar Thomas Celano, biographer of Saint Francis, and its view of God is conditioned by the emergent Holy Roman Empire, whose peripatetic king would visit his manors all across the West in a movable judgement that brought even the mightiest count or duke to the bar, before the sacral emperor. It has been praised as a hymn of “singular awe and piety”, though to modern ears its vision of a vengeful God is alienating and crude. Its triple-rhymed Latin is about as far from a modern sound as one can achieve, yet there is something modern about it, perhaps its lack of classical elegance and folk (we would say pop or popular) origin. It was chanted at All Soul’s Day, and Catholic scholars seem fairly unanimous in regarding it as the greatest specimen of sacred poetry in the Middle Ages (excluding, of course, Dante’s Inferno, whose worldview is remarkably consistent with the Dies Irae).
Note: I have given, here, a more modern, non-rhyming version of the poetic thoughts in the poem, although I also have done a more literal translation. Knowing even a little Latin, nothing can really compare with the Latin chant. So this is merely a loose paraphrasing from the text of the Graduale Seraphico-Romano and Roman Breviary. I should also note that any who want to read an in depth treatment of how the Holy Roman Empire founded Europe ought to consult Rosenstock-Huessy’s Out of Revolution or Kantorowicz’s The King’s Two Bodies. The only disclaimer is that these are secular, but relatively accurate and scholarly collections of data about the overwhelming pre-eminence of the early German emperors in Europe’s foundations. On a personal note, I will say that this was done when I was “less traditional”, & therefore, the traditional note is all the more obvious against the Semitic influence; the Dies Irae naturally breaths the air of transcendence, even with its heavy Christian piety.