Oh you whose wisdom dews the stars, the source of destiny—and yet without their work your art alone brings everything to pass, displays your strength from which heaven's powers, in highest meekness, flee! Your royal staff streams light of righteousness and goodness. Rapt in wonder, I mark your tender care for your creation's crown as for the slightest speck. No fiery angel-mind attains your loving-kindness. You spin a happiness-web of a thousand threads: in all the starry spheres, in all earth-places, all effort must be offered to the work that you begin. Your all-providing power prepares the way. You pull the cord to which all hearts are clinging and bring the mind's design, through action, into being. Click here to read this sonnet in the original German. This translation is published in To Heaven's Rim: The Kingdom Poets Book of World Christian Poetry, ed. Burl Horniachek (Cascade Books, 2023).
It glows entirely with love. It swells with longing
to bless all people. It weaves benevolence,
is draped with fruits of wonder-working artistry
and without limit surges joyfully with help and comfort.
Abundant faithfulness and utter goodness.
Desire’s flame ignites Compassion’s passion
that runs and rises to its purpose with no tinge of vanity.
And more! A multitude of ways and means compete:
which shall best serve to save mankind?
The Son’s nativity deserves triumph’s pageantry:
his birth the worthiest means of reconciliation.
The Highest says: I can no longer wait. My aching
heart, enflamed with love and grace, is breaking.
Click here to read this sonnet in the original German.
Away, death and despair! Away with all misfortune! Defiance to the devil and all his hordes! I do not fear their might now, not one whit! They surge against me, great streams of deceit. When I, with trusting heart, look to my helper, who sits at God’s right hand, I laugh at danger. To him, my heart, its need and remedy are known. A rescue-seeker, I send all my sighs to him. He guides, like streams of water, every heart beat, restrains with just one word the strongest waves; allows, if it will serve, the water’s fall but will not let it overflow the plain. He makes the cloudy clear, saltwater sweet; commands all power from his majestic seat.
This translation is published in Wonder-Work: Selected Sonnets of Catharina Regina von Greiffenberg (CMU Press, 2023). Click here to read the sonnet in the original German.