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A 16th century poem

On the eve of our third National Day of the year 2018, the glorious September 8 (commemorating Victory at the Great Siege of 1565), I was carrying out research work on the Melita Historica Vol. iii, no. 2 1981 at the National Library in Valletta.

On page149-154, I came across a poem written in simple Latin on the Great Siege with the heading ‘Ad patriam’ but preferred by the author himself to have as its title the first three words of the first paragraph: “O Melita Infelix”, as recounted in great detail by Carmel Cassar.

The poem was discovered by coincidence in a volume of the Magna Curia Castellania, the Grandmaster’s courts, signed by Lucas de Armenia – Patricius Melivetarus.

Luca de Armenia was in fact a Maltese citizen resident of Mdina and son of Antonio de Armenia.

Cassar provides a very interesting detail about the Armenias and had done quite a lot of research worth reading. Perhaps this poem has never been given publicity in any other publication. It may be of interest to all those who have the history of Malta at heart.

After its discovery, Cassar sought a literal translation in English by Mgr John Azzopardi, curator of the Cathedral Museum.

Ad patriam

O unhappy Malta, (O Melita Infelix) in the past fifteen centuries

Christ’s holy faith was always your light.

Always constant in faith, grateful and loyal

To all the kings and to your rulers.

Grand Master La Valette, like the great Ceasar, heaven permitting,

Has kept you safe from the great fleet of the Orient.

Now fury on anger or a heavenly sentence is against you,

He who commands a powerful fleet is preparing a return in blood and fire.

 Alas! we flee our native land, we leave the city by herself

Dispersing each one according to one’s fate.

 Sorrowful (city) farewell, farewell for a second and third time,

We are left to our tears and grief, no other city will be like (you) farewell.                                               

Lucas de Armenia Patricius Melivetanus

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