Now, a new creature

by Jacopone da Todi (Jacopone Benedetti)


Original Language Italian

Now, a new creature, I in Christ am born,
     The old man stripped away; -- I am new-made;
And mounting in me, like the sun at morn,
     Love breaks my heart, even as a broken blade:
Christ, First and Only Fair, from me hath shorn
     My will, my wits, and all that in me stayed,
     I in His arms am laid,
     I cry and call --
     'O Thou my All,
O let me die of Love!'

-- from All Saints: Daily Reflections on Saints, Prophets, and Witnesses for Our Time, by Robert Ellsberg

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Commentary by Ivan M. Granger

Something about that line "...mounting in me, like the sun at morn..." reminds me of the Aaronic Blessing from the Bible:

May the Lord bless you and keep you:
May the Lord make His face shine upon you,
     and be gracious unto you:
May the Lord lift up his countenance upon you
     and give you peace.


Since the west has discovered the rich traditions of mysticism and devotion of the east, there is sometimes a tendency to overlook the genuine experiences of the awakening within the western traditions. This poem of Jacopone di Todi is a good reminder of this.

With the opening of the sacred experience, thoughts stop, but not merely thoughts, all concepts, even the sense of "I" -- the ego -- falls away. There is a new found sense of inner freedom; all internal, self-imposed psychic boundaries are gone. It is as if an old skin has been shed, and we are flooded with a new awareness of life.

This is what it means to be a "new creature." The "old man stripped away," you are now "new-made."

There is an awareness of an rising, fiery energy within (yogis would call this the Kundalini Shakti), and you a flood of light. This is Jacopone's "mounting" of the "sun at morn."

The heart is warm, wide open, embracing all with love. "Love breaks my heart," he says. It is as if the old concept of the heart, a limited, sometimes hard or closed thing, that has broken... and it has broken OPEN. Like a blade broken, and perhaps turned into a ploughshare, the heart is no longer an instrument of wounding, but a thing that can work to feed the hungry world.

All mental chatter, all artificial concepts, all desire for anything other than this divine completeness vanishes. "...from me hath shorn/My will, my wits..."

Finally, to "die of Love," this is the mystic's true quest. The goal is not to die in the physical sense, but to let the ego, the congealing sense of "I, me, mine," disappear completely in the all-consuming fire of Divine Love.



Recommended Books: Jacopone da Todi (Jacopone Benedetti)

Poetry for the Spirit: Poems of Universal Wisdom and Beauty Jacopone da Todi: Lauds (Classics of Western Spirituality) All Saints: Daily Reflections on Saints, Prophets, and Witnesses for Our Time





Now, a new creature