from Cento Vergilianus de Laudibus Christi

03-30 Proba
Faltonia Betitia Proba
Italian
322 – 370

Once I wrote of leaders violating sacred tracts,
of those who cling to their terrible thirst for power;
of so many slaughters, the cruel campaigns of Kings,
of blood-brothers at battle, illustrious shields spattered
with kindred gore, trophies taken from would-be allies,
cities widowed once again of their countless peoples:
of these, I confess, I once wrote. It is enough to record such evil.
Now, all-powerful God, take, I pray, my sacred song,
loosen the voices of your eternal, seven-fold
Spirit; unlock the innermost chambers of my heart,
that I, Proba, the prophet, might reveal its secrets.
Now I spurn the nectar of Olympus, find no joy
in calling down the Muses from their high mountain haunts;
not for me to spread the idle boast that rocks can speak,
or pursue the theme of laureled tripods, voided vows,
the brawling gods of princes, vanquished votive idols:
Nor do I seek to extend my glory through mere words
or court their petty praise in the vain pursuits of men.
But baptised, like the blest, in the Castalian font –
I, who in my thirst have drunk libations of the Light –
now begin my song: be at my side, Lord, set my thoughts
straight, as I tell how Virgil sang the offices of Christ.

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