As it has been shown previously in the third chapter of this treatise, this Song has three principal parts, whereof two have been reasoned or argued out, the first of which begins in the aforesaid chapter, and the second in the sixteenth (so that the first through thirteen, and the second through fourteen chapters, passes on to an end, without counting the Proem of the treatise on the Song, which is comprised in two chapters), in this thirtieth and last chapter we must briefly discuss the third principal part, which was made as a refrain and as a species of ornament for this Song; and it begins: “My Song, Against the strayers.”
Here it is chiefly to be known that every good workman, at the end of his work, ought to ennoble and embellish it as much as possible, that it may leave his hands so much the more precious, and more worthy of fame. And this I endeavour to do in this part, not as a good workman, but as the follower of one.
I say, then, “My Song, Against the strayers.” “Against the strayers” is a phrase, as, for example, from the good friar, Thomas of Aquinas, who, to a book of his, which he wrote to the confusion of all those who go astray from our Faith, gave the title “Contra Gentili,” Against the Heathen. I say, then, that thou shalt go, which is as much as to say: “Thou art now perfect, and it is now time, not to stand still, but to go forward, for thy enterprise is great. And ’when you reach Our Lady, hide not from her that your end Is labour that would lessen wrong.’” Where it is to be observed that, as our Lord says, “We ought not to cast pearls before swine,” because it is not to their advantage, and it is injury to the pearls; and, as Aesop the poet says in the first fable, a little grain of corn is of far more worth to a cock than a pearl, and therefore he leaves the pearl and picks up the grain of corn: reflecting on this, as a caution, I speak and give command to the Song that it reveal its high office where this Lady, that is, where Philosophy, will be found. And that most noble Lady will be found when her dwelling-place is found, that is, the Soul in which she finds her Inn. And this Philosophy dwells not in wise men alone, but likewise, as is proved above in another treatise, wherever the love for her inhabits, she is there. “And to such as these,” I say to the Song, “thou mayst reveal thine office, because to them the purpose thereof will be useful, and by them its thoughts will be gathered in.”
And I bid it say to this Lady, “I travel ever talking of your Friend.”
Nobility is her Friend. For so much does the one love the other, that Nobility always seeks her, and Philosophy does not turn aside her most sweet glance to any other.
O, what a great and beautiful ornament is this which is given to her in the last part of this Song, by giving to her the title of Friend, the Friend of her whose own abode is in the most secret depths of the Divine Mind.