Sonnet III (To the Virgin Mary)

Mikolaj Sep-Szarzynski (1550?-1581)

Unequalled Virgin, the second ornament
Of the human race, whose dignity has not diminished
Her humility, nor has humility lessened her generosity of heart,
O rare Mother of her own Creator!

You have crushed the head of the serpent whose venom
Has poisoned the entire world.
You assumed your place in Heaven above the angels' choir
And there, glorified, you partake of eternal joy.

For our souls you are like a moon
Which reflects the rays of eternal
Charity, as our grievous sinfulness

Descends on us like a night's dark shadow.
Lead us to the morning dawn
And show us the light of your Sun which we all desire.

A late Renaissance poet whose artful verse resembles that of the English metaphysical poets, Szarzynski converted from Protestantism to Catholicism in 1569 or 1570 and began to write poetry at approximately the same time. Some critics consider him the foremost poet of the Catholic Counter-Reformation in Poland. "Sonet III Do Najswietszej Panny" can be found in Rytmy abo wiersze polskie, edited by Jadwiga Sokolowska (Warsaw: Panstwowy Instytut Wydawniczy 1957).

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The Sarmatian Review
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