Song of the sun
In the late spring of 1225 suffering from severe inflammation of his eyes St Francis couldn't stand sunlight and found it impossible to see by the glow of a lamp or candle at night. Imprisoned in darkness, his pain was so intense that he seldom rested or slept, and if he did drop off was soon woken by the field mice which scampered all over him. Shocked to discover he was giving way to self-pity he concentrated harder on his prayers.
He is reputed to have told the friars, 'God deigned to assure me, while I'm still here in the flesh, that there will be a place for me later in heaven. I therefore want to compose a song praising him and thanking him for all his creatures on earth, because we cannot live without them and we daily offend him by our lack of gratitude for them.
This was his song:
Most high, almighty, good Lord,
Yours be the praise, the glory, the honour and every blessing;
To you alone, most high, do they belong
And no man is worthy to utter your name.
Be praised, my Lord, with all your creatures,
Especially Lord Brother Sun,
To whom we owe both day and light,
For he is beautiful, radiant and of great splendour;
Of you, most high, he is the emblem.
Be praised, my Lord, through Sister Moon and the stars,
You have made them in the heavens, bright, precious and beautiful.
Be praised, my Lord, through Brothers Wind and Air, Through cloud, clear skies and all other weather By which ;you give your creatures sustenance.
Be praised, my Lord, through Sister Water, So very useful, humble, precious and chaste.
Be praised, my Lord, through Brother Fire,
By whom you enlighten the night;
He is beautiful, merry, robust and strong.
Be praised, my Lord, through our sister, Mother Earth,
Who sustains and looks after us,
Producing the different fruits, coloured flowers and the grass.
The Canticle of Brother Sun  was composed in the Umbrian dialect, then emerging with others from Latin into Italian. Some scholars say it is the earliest poem in a modern European language to survive, others that the original reveals great artistry not only in the choice and arrangement of its images but also in the subtlety of its rhythms.