Heaven Times Three
Jacopone da Tode
Lauda LX – Holy Poverty and the Third Heaven
Love of poverty, realm of peace!
Poverty, secure life with no grief, no rancour,
with no fear from robbers nor from storms!
Poverty dies in peace, makes no will,
leaves the world as clean as an arrow,
and leaves people in harmony.
It needs no judge nor notary
owes no fees to court,
laughs at the greedy man
who stands in so much anxiety.
Poverty, high wisdom, subject to nothing,
despises possessing, yet possesses
every created thing.
Those who despise possessions
possess without offense to themselves,
nothing a trap for their foot
as they face their days.
Those who are possessed by self
have sold themselves to that which they love:
if they think they have gained,
they have gained damaged goods.
So pernicious courage can enter into slavery,
the image of God, its grace, sullied by emptiness.
God does not dwell in narrow hearts,
the larger the heart
the greater the desire for God –
poverty has such a great heart
that Deity dwells there.
Poverty is hidden by heaven
from those darkened on earth;
those who have entered the third heaven
hear the mysterious deeps.
The first heaven is the sky,
stripped of every honour,
offers the great obstacle
in finding security.
To make honour die in you,
you must abandon riches,
and flee reputation of holiness.
Riches rob you of time,
Knowledge is blown away in the wind,
Reputation breeds hypocrisy
and sticks with every deposition.
Steady in the starry sky
are those who are stripped of all three.
Look – another heaven behind the veil,
clear and sturdy.
Four winds stir the sea
and disturb the mind –
fear and hope,
grief and joy.
These four strip away
more than riches, reputation or learning.
So I say, contradicting
those without spiritual capacity.
You need not have fear of hell
nor hope for heaven,
nothing should make you rejoice
or make you grieve for adversity.
Righteousness does not come through these,
since these hold you outside of it;
Completely cloaked righteousness holds you
and heals your failings.
If righteousness is without covering,
and vices are clothed,
mortal blows are given
and wounded on earth you will stay.
When the vices are dead,
and righteousness restored,
you will be strengthened in God’s company,
in every way protected.
The third heaven is the highest,
it has no bounds or measures,
all fantasy terminated.
All good has been stripped from you,
divested of all righteousness,
treasure the bargain
of your own shame.
This heaven is built strong,
founded on a nothing,
where purified love
lives in truth.
Since what appears to be the case to you is not,
because it is so much higher than it is,
pride in this heaven
damns itself to humility.
Between righteousness and action
many are mocked as “mad”,
as long as they think they are well served
they remain on earth separated from God.
This heaven has no name,
the tongue tries to say
where love is in prison
and light is in darkness.
All light is darkness,
and all darkness is day,
the new philosophy
has consumed the old wineskins.
There where Christ is grafted,
and the old wood is pruned,
one is transformed into the other
in wondrous unity.
Love lives without desire
and wisdom without intellect,
the will, chosen by God
to do his will.
I live and yet not I,
and my being is not my being,
this is so cross-wise,
that it cannot be circumscribed.
Poverty has nothing
and can desire nothing;
and yet possesses everything
in the spirit of liberty.
– Translation Ted Witham 2013