The National Catholic Review
Chris Waters

Cantiga de Santa María No. 243,
by Alfonso X, “El Sabio”

(Saint Mary of Vila-Sirga saves two falconers
from a frozen stream.)

From all perils our Mother will find ways
to save the faithful. Let us sing Her praise.

I
His two falconers, worth a golden price,
hunt with Alfonso always. One cold day,
near Her Vila-Sirga, their birds of prey,
sighting a ripe stream, flew to the slaughter.
A flock of ducks fled down to the water,
panic-stricken, then dove beneath the ice.

From all perils our Mother will find ways
to save the faithful. Let us sing Her praise.

II
The falconers crashed through, began to wail
to Vila-Sirga’s Queen. Flailing below
the white wall of ice, fear sapped their belief
that She would come. But Mary, so divine,
broke up the blocks. They sped first to Her shrine,
then to Alfonso’s court, to tell the tale.

From all perils our Mother will find ways
to save the faithful. Let us sing Her praise.

Chris Waters, author of Paul Claudel, in the Twayne series, and four books of poetry, is currently preparing a book, Bestiary of Alfonso the Wise.

Recently in Poem