To Ignatius de Loyola, founder of the Jesuit order.
How sordid is the earth to me, while I look toward heaven!
While Loyola watches the splendour of the night
And the watchful torches, not without order, of the starry court.
He burns for heaven, he yearns for heaven; fired on all sides
Because of his vows he shoots up his rays from earth towards the celestials;
He sparkles and, giving life to fires from the fires he sees,
He suffers from as many torches as the sky produces.
He would have dissolved completely into flames and fire,
True to his name,3
had he not produced waters as his allies.4
But as when a river brazenly beats the opposite shores
The dike is overcome by the flood of water,
So when Ignatius seethes, producing uncommon heat,
He dissolves into tender tears.
Nay, he makes all wet by covering it with a stream of sobs,
And on all sides he engulfs his tongue in silent waters.
This one 5
is silent and declares not to be capable of crying.
Naturally: tears also weigh down the tongue.6
That one, meantime, flows across the face with a light murmur,
Sprung forth from the cheeks it wanders over the ground. 7
Not so does the winter combine raindrops into fleeces,
So that it covers the bare ground with a snowy cloak.
Not so does the daybreak take possession of the budding grass.
Not so does the sparkling dew cover the succulent thyme.
No voice gives signs of sorrow, silent mourning governs all.
But as soon as the voice of sorrow raises itself above the floods,
And the shipwrecked tongue has recovered its own sounds,
He starts to groan, and with his eyes fixed on heaven says:
How sordid is the earth to me while I watch the stars!
But why is the earth that the light8 washes With a double stream sordid?
The waves mixed with dust produce mud.9
To you therefore, saint Ignatius, to you most valiant hero, who despised the riches of fortune, the enticements of the flesh,
your ancestral titles, and whatever mortals look up to in this world, and fixed your eyes and your mind/heart on the heavens,
to you, I say, we dedicate and consecrate this Image of the World and the earnest game concerning the two forms of love. To
whom could it be more appropriate?
We are watered by your springs everyday. We redirect the water to you that we drew from you. You animated our pens. It is
for you we first begin to live. You have hung the arms the world had prescribed to you (or for a long time had hoped that
they would be dedicated to itself) as votive gifts in the Virgin's sanctuary,10
so that the spoils of your old fortune form the basis for a new military service.
Both kinds of love chose you as the wrestling ground to play their game. And indeed the earthly kind of love appeared to be
winning, cleverly presenting an appearance so as to look attractive to you, feigning an element of the divine, as if this
were of its own merit, and tried to win your heart for itself.
But when the game had already turned into struggle, struggle into sadness, sadness into tears, immediately the cosmetics that
had obscured the issue vanished. The mask's attraction lost its lustre. And the muddy filth 11 of the earth, that to this point had grown into a mask, revealed once it was robbed of its counterfeit colours its true self
even if it did not want to. 12
But still it had not betrayed itself completely. Yet at this point you hated it completely. It was abundantly clear to a mind
particularly inclined to disdain the world, that you had been very near to mortal danger.
Thus you were victorious then, while one could have thought that you were lost. I may even be so bold as to say: you had never
been victorious, if you had not been so lost. I am inclined to believe that the ball 13 belonged to divine love by which not so much your leg as your heart was wounded. A happy wound! Because it taught you the
disasters of the world, untaught you to risk its dangers. Happy ball! It very quickly ousted the ball of earth that was already
buried deep inside your heart, and by the hollow sound it produced when struck forced it to reveal its own inanity,
'And forced it to profess
How loudly the gold clanged of deceit: a thin layer on the bronze.'14
Happy ball! It opened the way by which you could fool the love of the world as it was out to deceive you and you learned to
join in play with the divine kind. 15
Obviously it opened your heart for heaven, closed it for the world.
It forced you to lose, in order to become victorious. Therefore to your altars, saint Ignatius, who while conquered yourself
so nobly brought down your conqueror, we hang up these votive tablets of our ingenuity, begging just one thing of you: that
this work, insignificant compared to either your worthiness or its own, 16 average as to the effort, large if one takes our feelings as a measure; that on the basis of our progress in the study of
the arts (which we hope by your favour alone will continue in the future) you will receive it with such benevolence that all
can easily understand that this had been most pleasing and welcome to you. You will accept it, I do not doubt that, and as
our patron you will give a hearing to us, your clients. For neither does it demean you (you are always humble towards everything)
to despise what is humble, nor do we vaunt ourselves that we can surpass you in benevolence.