chapter
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PREFACE

The universe has nothing without end – not earth, not realms of men, not golden Rome, not seas, not land, not stars that burn above. The Father of all things set a fixed time when final scorching fire will seize the world. 5 Still, lofty deeds and honor paid to virtue exalt throughout the ages countless men whose fame and praise the poets amplify. The high-flown verse that flows from Smyrna’s spring lifts some, the charm of Mincian Virgil others. 10 The poets’ glory ranges just as far, almost eternal, lasting long as time, abiding while the spinning axis turns the starry sky on its determined path. And yet if poems that weave together lies 15 with ancient acts have earned such long repute, my steadfast faith will grant the deathless glow of endless praise to me, my due reward. For I will sing of Christ’s life-giving deeds – a gift to nations, cleared of lies, divine. 20 Nor do I fear world-wasting flames will seize my work: this might, in fact, deliver me when Christ the gleaming judge, his high-throned Father’s glory, descends within a blazing cloud. So come! Be near, o sanctifying Spirit, 25 source of my poem; and you, sweet Jordan, flood me with pure drafts, to speak as Christ deserves.