Ad Perennis Vitae Fontem

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The first line of the De gaudio paradisi, the first part of a rhythmical eschatological tetralogy traditionally ascribed to peter damian. Its meter is accentual trochaic tetrameter, maintained flawlessly throughout the 20 three-lined strophes of this rhythm on the joys of paradise, and continued in the 35 additional strophes on death, judgment, and hell. The Ad perennis has received several excellent translations into English. Abounding in Biblical imagery, the poem captures the longing of the soul to be released from the bonds of earth to abide in the heavenly Jerusalem, especially in the unending possession of the Source of life itself. Damian's authorship is questioned, not only because of a doubt in the MS ascription in Vat. lat. 3797, fol. 362363, and of the admittedly dubious claim of Peter the Deacon of Monte Cassino that it was written by Alberic of Monte Cassino, but for the further reason that its meter seems to be foreign to that appearing in the poetic works of Damian that have been definitely authenticated.

Bibliography: Analecta Hymnica 48:6667. o. j. blum, "Alberic of Monte Cassino ," Traditio 12 (1956) 87148, esp. 128130. s. a. hurlbut, The Song of St. Peter Damiani (Washington 1928). f. j. e. raby, A History of Christian-Latin Poetry (Oxford 1953) 250256; A History of Secular Latin Poetry in the Middle Ages (Oxford 1957) 1:369374. j. julian, ed., A Dictionary of Hymnology (London 1907) 1:13. j. leclercq, Revue Bénedectine 67 (1957) 151174. p. meyvaert, ibid., 175181. k. reindel, ibid., 182189. j. szÖvÉrffy, Die Annalen der lateinischen Hymnendichtung (Berlin 196465) 1:391397.

[o. j. blum]