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Elizabeth Barrett Browning:


EDITOR'S NOTE: The series of papers on the Greek Christian Poets (from which the following translations are excerpted) appeared first in the -Athenaeum- between the months of February and August, 1842. They were reprinted along with a second series of papers on the English poets -- contributed to the same periodical -- in a small separate volume, two years after Mrs. Browning's death. (The Greek Christian Poets and the English Poets, by Elizabeth Barrett Browning, London. Chapman and Hall, 1863.)

As a mere girl, Miss Barrett had read the Greek Fathers in the original, under the guidance of the blind scholar, Hugh Stewart Boyd, who was deeply versed in them and could repeat from memory pages of their works both in prose and verse. A playful allusion to his especial enthusiasm for Saint Gregory Nazianzen occurs in Mrs. Browning's poem 'Wine of Cyprus', which was dedicated to Mr. Boyd:

    "Do you mind that deed of Ate
     Which you bound me to so fast,
     Reading "-De Virginitate-",
     From the first line to the last?
     How I said, at the ending solemn,
     As I turned and looked at you,
     That Saint Simeon on that column,
     Had had somewhat less to do?"

                                               -HARRIET WATERS PRESTON, 


                 by St. Clement of Alexandria

    Curb for wild horses,
    Wing for bird-courses
    Never yet flown!
    Helm, sage for weak ones,
    Shepherd, bespeak once,
    The young lambs thine own.
    Rouse up the youth,
    Shepherd and feeder,
    So let them bless thee,
    Praise and confess thee, --
    Pure words on pure mouth, --
    Christ, the child-leader!
    Oh, the saints' Lord,
    All-dominant word!
    Holding, by Christdom,
    God's highest wisdom!
    Column in place
    When sorrows seize us, --
    Endless in grace
    Unto man's race,
    Saving one, Jesus!
    Pastor and ploughman,
    Helm, curb, together, --
    Pinion that now can
    (Heavenly of feather)
    Raise and release us!
    Fisher who catcheth
    Those whom he watcheth...

2. From St. Gregory Nazianzen:

   Where are my winged words?  Dissolved in air.
   Where is my flower of youth?  All withered. Where
   My glory?  Vanished.  Where the strength I knew
   From comely limbs?  Disease hath changed it too, 
   And bent them.  Where the riches and the lands?
   GOD HATH THEM!  Yea, and sinners' snatching hands
   Have grudged the rest.  Where is my father, mother, 
   And where my blessed sister, my sweet brother?
   Gone to the grave! -- There did remain for me
   Alone my fatherland, till destiny, 
   Malignly stirring a black tempest, drove 
   My foot from that last rest.  And now I rove
   Estranged and desolate a foreign shore, 
   And drag my mournful life and age all hoar
   Throneless and cityless, and childless save
   This father-care for children, which I have, 
   Living from day to day on wandering feet.
   Where shall I cast this body?  What will greet 
   My sorrows with an end? What gentle ground
   And hospitable grave will wrap me round?
   Who last my dying eyelids stoop to close--
   Some saint, the Saviour's friend? or one of those 
   Who do not know Him?  The air interpose, 
   And scatter these words too.  

             by St. Gregory Nazianzen, the Theologian

     What wilt thou possess or be?
     O my soul, I ask of thee.
     What of great, or what of small,
     Counted precious therewithal?
     Be it only rare, and want it,
     I am ready, soul, to grant it.
     Wilt thou choose to have and hold
     Lydian Gyges' charm of old,
     So to rule us with a ring,
     Turning round the jewelled thing,
     Hidden by its face concealed,
     And revealed by its revealed?
     Or preferrest Midas' fate --
     He who died in golden state,
     All things being changed to gold?
        Of a golden hunger dying,
        Through a surfeit of "would I"-ing!
     Wilt have jewels brightly cold,
        Or may fertile acres please?
     Or the sheep of many a fold,
     Camels, oxen, for the wold?
        Nay ! I will not give thee these!
     These to take thou hast not will,
     These to give I have not skill;
     Since I cast earth's cares abroad,
     That day when I turned to God.

     Wouldst a throne, a crown sublime,
     Bubble blown upon the time?
     So thou mayest sit to-morrow
     Looking downward in meek sorrow,
     Some one walking by thee scorning
     Who adored thee yester morning,
     Some malign one?  Wilt be bound
     Fast in marriage (joy unsound!)
     And be turned round and round
     As the time turns?  Wilt thou catch it,
     That sweet sickness?  and to match it
     Have babies by the hearth, bewildering?
     And if I tell thee the best children
     Are none -- what answer?
        Wilt thou thunder
     Thy rhetorics, move the people under?
     Covetest to sell the laws
     With no justice in thy cause,
     And bear on, or else be borne,
     Before tribunals worthy scorn?
     Wilt thou shake a javelin rather
     Breathing war?  or wilt thou gather
     Garlands from the wrestler's ring?
     Or kill beasts for glorying?
     Covetest the city's shout,
     And to be in brass struck out?
     Cravest thou that shade of dreaming,
     Passing air of shifting seeming,
     Rushing of a printless arrow,
        Clapping echo of a hand?
        What to those who understand
     Are to-day's enjoyments narrow
     Which to-morrow go again,
     Which are shared with evil men
     And of which no man in his dying
     Taketh aught for softer lying?
     What then wouldst thou, if thy mood
        Choose not these?  what wilt thou be
        O my soul -- a deity?
     A God before the face of God,
     Standing glorious in His glories,
     Choral in His angels' chorus?

     Go!  upon thy wing arise,
     Plumed by quick energies,
     Mount in circles up the skies:
     And I will bless thy winged passion,
     Help with words thine exaltation,
     And, like a bird of rapid feather,
     Outlaunch thee, Soul, upon the ether.

     But thou, O fleshly nature, say,
     Thou with odors from the clay,
     Since thy presence I must have
     As a lady with a slave,
     What wouldst thou possess or be,
     That thy breath may stay with thee?
     Nay!  I owe thee nought beside,
     Though thine hands be open wide.
     Would a table suit thy wishes,
     Fragrant with sweet oils and dishes
     Wrought to subtle niceness?  where
     Stringed music strikes the air,
     And blithe hand-clappings, and the smooth
     Fine postures of the tender youth
     And virgins wheeling through the dance
     With an unveiled countenance, --
     Joys for drinkers, who love shame,
     And the maddening wine-cup's flame.
     Wilt thou such, howe'er decried?
     Take them, -- and a rope beside!

     Nay!  this boon I give instead
     Unto friend insatiated, --
     May some rocky house receive thee,
     Self-roofed, to conceal thee chiefly;
     Or if labor there must lurk,
     Be it by a short day's work!
     And for garment, camel's hair,
     As the righteous clothed were,
     Clothe thee!  or the bestial skin
     Adam's bareness hid within, --
     Or some green thing from the way,
        Leaf of herb, or branch of vine,
     Swelling, purpling as it may,
       Fearless to be drunk for wine!
     Spread a table there beneath thee,
     Which a sweetness shall upbreathe thee,
     And which the dearest earth is giving,
     Simple present to all living!
     When that we have placed thee near it,
     We will feed thee with glad spirit.
     Wilt thou eat ?  soft, take the bread,
     Oaten cake, if that bested;
     Salt will season all aright,
     And thine own good appetite,
     Which we measure not, nor fetter.
     'T is an uncooked condiment,
     Famine's self the only better.
        Wilt thou drink?  why, here doth bubble
     Water from a cup unspent,
        Followed by no tipsy trouble,
     Pleasure sacred from the grape!
     Wilt thou have it in some shape
     More like luxury?  we are
     No grudgers of wine-vinegar!
     But if all will not suffice thee,
        And thou covetest to draw
        In that pitcher with a flaw,
     Brimful pleasure heaven denies thee --
     Go, and seek out, by that sign,
     Other help than this of mine!
     For me, I have not leisure so
     To warm thee, Sweet, my household foe,
     Until, like a serpent frozen,
     New maddened with the heat, thou loosen
        Thy rescued fang within mine heart!
     Wilt have measureless delights
     Of gold-roofed palaces, and sights
        From pictured or from sculptured art,
     With motion near their life;  and splendor
     Of bas-relief, with tracery tender,
     And varied and contrasted hues?
     Wilt thou have, as nobles use,
     Broidered robes to flow about thee?
     Jewelled fingers?  Need we doubt thee?
     Gauds for which the wise will flout thee?
     I most, who, of all beauty, know
     It must be inward, to be so!
     And thus I speak to mortals low,
     Living for the hour, and o'er
     Its shadow, seeing nothing more;
     But for those of nobler bearing.
     Who live more worthily of wearing
     A portion of the heavenly nature --
     To low estate of clayey creature,
     See, I bring the beggar's meed,
     Nutriment beyond the need!

     O, beholder of the Lord,
     Prove on me the flaming sword!
     Be mine husbandman, to nourish
     Holy plants, that words may flourish
     Of which mine enemy would spoil me,
     Using pleasurehood to foil me!
     Lead me closer to the tree
     Of all life's eternity;
     Which, as I have pondered, is
     The knowledge of God's greatnesses:
     Light of One, and shine of Three,
     Unto whom all things that be
     Flow and tend!
        In such a guise,
     Whoever on the earth is wise
     Will speak unto himself:  and who
     Such inner converse would eschew, --
     We say perforce of that poor wight,
     "He lived in vain!" and if -aright-,
     It is not the worst word we might.

             by Amphilochius of Iconium

	They sit unknowing of these agonies,
	Spectators at a show.  When a man flies
	From a beast's jaw, they groan, as if at least
	They missed the ravenous pleasure, like the beast,
	And sat there vainly.  When, in the next spring,
	The victim is attained, and, uttering
	The deep roar or quick shriek between the fangs,
	Beats on the dust the passion of his pangs,
	All pity dieth in that glaring look;
	They clap to see the blood run like a brook;
	They stare with hungry eyes, which tears should fill,
	And cheer the beasts on with their soul's good will;
	And wish more victims to their maw, and urge
	And lash their fury, as they shared the surge,
	Gnashing their teeth, like beasts, on the flesh of men.

              by Synesius of Cyrene

     Well-beloved and glory-laden,
     Born of Solyma's pure maiden!
     I would hymn Thee, blessed Warden,
     Driving from Thy Father's garden
     Blinking serpent's crafty lust,
     With his bruised head in the dust!
     Down Thou camest, low as earth,
     Bound to those of mortal birth;
     Down Thou camest, low as hell,
     Where shepherd-Death did tend and keep
     A thousand nations like to sheep,
     While weak with age old Hades fell
     Shivering through his dark to view Thee,
     And the Dog did backward yell
     With jaws all gory to let through Thee!
     So, redeeming from their pain
     Choirs of disembodied ones,
     Thou didst lead whom Thou didst gather,
     Upward in ascent again,
     With a great hymn to the Father,
     Upward to the pure white thrones!
     King, the daemon tribes of air
     Shuddered back to feel Thee there!
     And the holy stars stood breathless,
     Trembling in their chorus deathless;
     A low laughter fill'ed aether --
     Harmony's most subtle sire
     From the seven strings of his lyre
     Stroked a measured music hither --
     Io paean! victory!
     Smiled the star of morning -- he 
     Who smileth to foreshadow the day!
     Smil'ed Hesperus the golden,
     Who smileth soft for Venus gay!
     While that horn'ed glory holden
     Brimful from the fount of fire,
     The white moon, was leading higher
     In a gentle pastoral wise
     All the nightly deities!
     Yea, and Titan threw abroad
     The far shining of his hair
     'Neath Thy footsteps holy fair,
     Owning Thee the Son of God;
     The Mind artificer of all,
     And his own fire's original.

     And THOU upon Thy wing of will
     Mounting, -- Thy God-foot uptill
     The neck of the blue firmament, --
     Soaring, didst alight content
     Where the spirit-spheres were singing,
     And the fount of good was springing,
     In the silent heaven!
     Where Time is not with his tide
     Ever running, never weary,
     Drawing earth-born things aside
     Against the rocks: nor yet are given
     The plagues death-bold that ride the dreary
     Tost matter-depths.  Eternity
     Assumes the places which they yield!
     Not aged, howsoe'er she held
     Her crown from everlastingly --
     At once of youth, at once of eld,
     While in that mansion which is hers
     To God and gods she ministers!

            by Synesius of Cyrene

     O my deathless, O my blessed,
     Maid-born, glorious son confessed,
     O my Christ of Solyma!
     I who earliest learnt to play
     This measure for Thee, fain would bring
     Its new sweet tune to citern-string --
     Be propitious, O my King!
     Take this music which is mine
     Anthem'd from the songs divine!

     We will sing thee, deathless One,
     God himself and God's great Son -
     Of sire of endless generations,
     Son of manifold creations!
     Nature mutually endued,
     Wisdom in infinitude!
     God, before the angels burning -
     Corpse, among the mortals mourning!
     What time Thou wast poured mild
     From an earthy vase defiled,
     Magi with fair arts besprent,
     At Thy new star's orient,
     Trembled inly, wondered wild,
     Questioned with their thoughts abroad -
     "What then is the new-born child?
     WHO the hidden God?
     God, or corpse, or king?"
     Bring your gifts, oh hither bring
     Myrrh for rite -- for tribute, gold --
     Frankincense for sacrifice!
     God! Thine incense take and hold!
     King! I bring thee gold of price!
     Myrrh with tomb will harmonize!

     For Thou, entombed, hast purified
     Earthly ground and rolling tide,
     And the path of daemon nations,
     And the free air's fluctuations,
     And the depth below the deep!
     Thou God, helper of the dead,
     Low as Hades didst Thou tread!
     Thou King, gracious aspect keep,
     Take this music which is mine,
     Anthem'd from the songs divine.

            by Paul Silentiarius (sixth century)

     Whoever looketh with a mortal eye
     To heaven's emblazoned forms, not steadfastly
     With unreverted neck can bear to measure
     That meadow-round of star-apparelled pleasure,
     But drops his eyelids to the verdant hill,
     Yearning to see the river run at will,
     With flowers on each side, -- and the ripening corn,
     And grove thick set with trees, and flocks at morn
     Leaping against the dews, -- and olives twined,
     And green vine-branches, trailingly inclined, --
     And the blue calmness skimmed by dripping oar
     Along the Golden Horn.
     But if he bring
     His foot across this threshold, never more
     Would he withdraw it; fain, with wandering
     Moist eyes, and ever-turning head, to stay,
     Since all satiety is driven away
     Beyond the noble structure.  Such a fane
     Of blameless beauty hath our Caesar raised
     By God's perfective grace, and not in vain!
     O emperor, these labors we have praised,
     Draw down the glorious Christ's perpetual smile;
     For thou, the high-peaked Ossa didst not pile
     Upon Olympus' head, nor Pelion throw
     Upon the neck of Ossa, opening so
     The aether to the steps of mortals! no!
     Having achieved a work more high than hope,
     Thou didst not need these mountains as a slope
     Whereby to scale the heaven!  Wings take thee thither
     From purest piety to highest aether.

                    *** *** ***

     Who will unclose me Homer's sounding lips,
     And sing the marble mead that oversweeps
     The mighty walls and pavements spread around
     Of this tall temple, which the sun has crowned?
     The hammer with its iron tooth was loosed
     Into Carystus' summit green, and bruised
     The Phrygian shoulder of the daedal stone; --
     This marble, colored after roses fused
     In a white air, and that, with flowers thereon
     Both purple and silver, shining tenderly!
     And that which in the broad fair Nile sank low
     The barges to their edge, the porphyry's glow
     Sown thick with little stars! and thou mayest see 
     The green stone of Laconia glitter free!
     And all the Carian hill's deep bosom brings,
     Streaked bow-wise, with a livid white and red, --
     And all the Lydian chasm keeps covered,
     A hueless blossom with a ruddier one
     Soft mingled!  all, besides, the Libyan sun
     Warms with his golden splendor, till he make
     A golden yellow glory for his sake,
     Along the roots of the Maurusian height;
     And all the Celtic mountains give to sight
     From crystal clefts: black marbles dappled fair
     With milky distillations here and there!
     And all the onyx yields in metal-shine
     Of precious greenness! -- all that land of thine,
     Aetolia, hath on even plains engendered
     But not on mountain-tops, -- a marble rendered
     Here nigh to green, of tints which emeralds use,
     Here with a sombre purple in the hues!
     Some marbles are like new-dropt snow, and some
     Alight with blackness!
                         Beauty's rays have come,
     So congregate, beneath this holy dome!

               by George Pisida (seventh century)

Whatever eyes seek God to view His Light,
As far as they behold Him close in night!
Whoever searcheth with insatiate balls
Th' abysmal glare, or gazeth on Heaven's walls
Against the fire-disk of the sun, the same
According to the vision he may claim,
Is dazzled from his sense.  What soul of flame
Is called sufficient to view onward thus
The way whereby the sun's light came to us?

O distant Presence in fixed motion!  Known
To all men, and inscrutable to one:
Perceived -- uncomprehended! unexplained
To all the spirits, yet by each attained,
Because its God-sight is Thy work! O Presence,
Whatever holy greatness of Thine essence
Lie virtue-hidden, Thou has given our eyes
The vision of Thy plastic energies -- 
Not shown in angels only (those create
All fiery-hearted, in a mystic state
Of bodiless body) but, if order be
Of natures more sublime than they or we,
In highest Heaven, or mediate aether, or
This world now seen, or one that came before
Or one to come, -- quick in Thy purpose, -there-!
Working in fire and water, earth and air --
In every tuneful star, and tree, and bird --
In all the swimming creeping life unheard,
In all green herbs, and chief of all, in MAN.

	         by George Pisida

Some yearn to rule the state, to sit above,
And touch the cares of hate as near as love;
Some their own reason for tribunal take,
And for all thrones the humblest prayers they make;
Some love the orator's vain-glorious art, --
The wise love silence and the hush of heart, --
Some to ambition's spirit-curse are fain, 
That golden apple with a bloody stain;
While some do battle in her face (more rife
Of noble ends) and conquer strife with strife:
And while your groaning tables gladden these,
Satiety's quick chariot to disease,
Hunger the wise man helps, to water, bread,
And light wings to the dreams about his head.

		* * *

The sage o'er all the world his sceptre waves,
And earth is common ground to thrones and graves.

              by St. John Damascene

     From my lips in their defilement,
     From my heart in its beguilement,
     From my tongue which speaks not fair,
     From my soul stained everywhere,
     O my Jesus, take my prayer!
     Spurn me not for all it says,
     Not for words and not for ways,
     Not for shamelessness endued!
     Make me brave to speak my mood,
     O my Jesus, as I would!
     Or teach me, which I rather seek,
     What to do and what to speak.

     I have sinned more than she,
     Who learning where to meet with Thee,
        And bringing myrrh, the highest-priced,
     Anointed bravely, from her knee,
     Thy blessed feet accordingly,
        My God, my Lord, my Christ!
     As Thou saidest not 'Depart'
     To that suppliant from her heart,
     Scorn me not, O Word, that art
     The gentlest one of all words said!
     But give Thy feet to me instead
     That tenderly I may them kiss
     And clasp them close, and never miss
     With over-dropping tears, as free
     And precious as that myrrh could be,
     T'anoint them bravely from my knee!
     Wash me with Thy tears: draw nigh me,
     That their salt may purify me.
     Thou remit my sins who knowest
     All the sinning to the lowest --
     Knowest all my wounds, and seest
     All the stripes Thyself decreest;
     Yea, but knowest all my faith,
     Seest all my force to death,
     Hearest all my wailings low,
     That mine evil should be so!
     Nothing hidden but appears
     In Thy knowledge, O Divine,
     O Creator, Saviour mine --
     Not a drop of falling tears,
     Not a breath of inward moan,
     Not a heart-beat -- which is gone!


           by St. Simeon Metaphrastes

     A h, tears upon mine eyelids, sorrow on mine heart,
       I bring Thee soul-repentance, Creator as Thou art!
     B ounding joyous actions, deep as arrows go;
       Pleasures self-revolving, issue into woe!
     C reatures of our mortal, headlong rush to sin:
       I have seen them; of them -- ah me, -- I have been!
     D uly pitying Spirits, from your spirit-frame,
       Bring your cloud of weeping, -- worthy of the same!

     E lse I would be bolder; if that light of Thine,
       Jesus, quell the evil, let it on me shine!
     F ail me truth, is living, less than death forlorn,
       When the sinner readeth -- "better be unborn"?
     G od, I raise toward Thee both eyes of my heart,
       With a sharp cry -- "Help me!" -- while mine hopes depart.
     H elp me! Death is bitter, all hearts comprehend;
       But I fear beyond it -- end beyond the end.

     I nwardly behold me, how my soul is black:
       Sympathize in gazing, do not spurn me back!
     K nowing that Thy pleasure is not to destroy,
       That Thou fain wouldst save me -- this is all my joy.
     L o, the lion, hunting spirits in their deep,
       (Stand beside me!) roareth -- (help me!) nears to leap.
     M ayst Thou help me, Master! Thou art pure alone,
       Thou alone art sinless, one Christ on a throne.

     N ightly deeds I loved them, hated day's instead;
       Hence this soul-involving darkness on mine head.
     O Word, who constrainest things estranged and curst,
       If Thy hand can save me, that work were the first!
     P ensive o'er my sinning, counting all its ways,
       Terrors shake me, waiting adequate dismays.
     Q uenchless glories many, hast Thou -- many a rod --
       Thou, too, hast Thy measures.  Can I bear Thee, God?

     R end away my counting from my soul's decline,
       Show me of the portion of those saved of Thine!
     S low drops of my weeping to Thy mercy run:
       Let its rivers wash me, by that mercy won!
     T ell me what is worthy, in our dreary now,
       As the future glory? (madness!) what, as THOU?
     U nion, oh, vouchsafe me to Thy fold beneath,
       Lest the wolf across me gnash his gory teeth!

     V iew me, judge me gently! spare me, Master bland
       Brightly lift Thine eyelids, kindly stretch Thine hand!
     W inged and choral angels! 'twixt my spirit lone,
       And all deathly visions, interpose your own!
     Y ea, my Soul, remember death and woe inwrought --
       After-death affliction, wringing earth's to nought!
     Z one me, Lord, with graces!  Be foundations built
       Underneath me; save me! as Thou know'st and wilt!

[Translator's Note:  The omission of our X (in any case too sullen a 
to be employed in the service of an acrostic) has permitted us to write 
for line with the Greek!     -- E.B.]

                by St. Simeon Metaphrastes

"O uncovered corse, yet Word of the Living One ! self-doomed to be uplifted on the cross for the drawing of all men unto Thee, - what member of Thine hath no wound ? O my blessed brows, embraced by the thorn-wreath which is pricking at my heart ! O beautiful and priestly One, who hadst not where to lay Thine head and rest, and now wilt lay it only in the tomb, resting -there-; sleeping, as Jacob said, a lion's sleep ! O cheeks turned to the smiter ! O lips, new hive for bees, yet fresh from the sharpness of vinegar and bitterness of gall ! O mouth, wherein was no guile, yet betrayed by the traitor's kiss ! O hand, creative of man, yet nailed to the cross, and since stretched out unto Hades, with help for the first transgressor ! O feet, once walking on the deep to hallow the waters of nature ! O me, my son ! . . . Where is thy chorus of sick ones ? - those whom Thou didst cure of their diseases, and bring back from the dead ? Is none here, but only Nicodemus, to draw the nails from those hands and feet ? - none here, but only Nicodemus, to lift Thee from the cross heavily, heavily, and lay Thee in these mother-arms, which bore Thee long ago, in thy babyhood, and were glad -then- ? These hands, which swaddled Thee then, let them bind Thy grave-clothes now. And yet, - O bitter funerals ! - O Giver of life from the dead, liest Thou dead before mine eyes ? Must -I-, who said "hush" beside Thy cradle, wail this passion upon Thy grave ? -I-, who washed Thee in Thy first bath, must I drop on Thee these hotter tears ? I, who raised Thee high in my maternal arms, - but -then- Thou leapedst, - -then- Thou sprangest up in Thy child-play !"

13. IKONS,
           by John of Euchaita

a) Gregory of Nazianzen

	What meditates thy thoughtful gaze, my father?
	To tell me some new truth?  Thou canst not so!
	For all that mortal hands are weak to gather,
	Thy blessed books unfolded long ago.

b) The Blessed Among Women, Weeping

	O Lady of the passion, dost thou weep?
	  What help can we then through our tears survey,
	If such as thou a cause for wailing keep?
	  What help, what hope, for us, sweet Lady, say?
	``Good man, it doth befit thine heart to lay
	More courage next it, having seen me so.
	  All other hearts find other balm today---
	The whole world's consolation is my woe!''

c) The Transfiguration

	Tremble, spectator, at the vision won thee!
	  Stand afar off, look downward from the height,
	Lest Christ too nearly seen should lighten on thee,
	  And from thy fleshly eyeballs strike the sight,
	  As Paul fell ruined by that glory white!
	Lo, the disciples prostrate, each apart,
	  Each impotent to bear the lamping light!
	  And all that Moses and Elias might,
	The darkness caught the grace upon her heart
	And gave them strength for!  Thou, if evermore
	A god-voice pierce thy dark,--rejoice, adore!

               by John Mauropus of Euchaita

    O be not angry with me, gentle house
    That I have left thee empty and deserted!
    Since thou thyself that evil didst arouse,
    In being to thy masters so false-hearted,
    In loving one of those who did possess thee,
    In minist'ring to no one to an end,
    In no one's service caring to confess thee,
    But living still the change of friend for friend,
    And sending the last, plague-wise, to the door!
    And so, or ere thou canst betray and leave me,
    I, a wise lord, dismiss thee, servitor,
    And antedate the wrong thou mayst achieve me
    Against my will, by what my will allows;
    Yet not without some sorrow, gentle house!

    For oh, beloved house, what time I render
    My last look back on thee I grow more tender!
    Pleasant possession, hearth for father's age,
    Dear gift of buried hands, sole heritage!
    My blood is stirred; and love, that learnt its play
    From all sweet customs, moves mine heart thy way!
    For thou wast all my nurse and helpful creature,
    For thou wast all my tutor and my teacher;
    In thee through lengthening toils I struggled deep,
    In thee I watched all night without its sleep,
    In thee I worked the warier daytime out,
    Exalting truth, or trying by a doubt.

    And oh, my father's roof, the memory leaves
    Such pangs as break mine heart, beloved eaves!
    But God's word conquers all.

    Farewell, farewell, mine own familiar one,
    Estranged for evermore from this day's sun,
    Fare-thee-well so! Farewell, O second mother.
    O nurse and help, -- remains there not another!
    My bringer-up to some sublimer measure
    Of holy childhood and perfected pleasure!
    Now other spirits must thou tend and teach,
    And minister thy quiet unto each,
    For reasoning uses, if they love such use,
    But nevermore to me.  God keep thee, house,
    God keep thee, faithful corner, where I drew
    So calm a breath of life! And God keep you,
    Kind neighbors! Though I leave you by His grace.
    Let no grief bring a shadow to your face;
    Because whate'er He willeth to be done
    His will makes easy, makes the distant - one,
    And soon brings all embraced before His throne!

16. From PHILIA,
           by Theodore Prodromus (twelfth century)

      Love! Lady diademed with honor, whence 
      And whither goest thou? Thy look presents
      Tears to the lid, thy mien is vext and low,
      Thy locks fall wildly from thy drooping brow, 
      Thy blushes are all pale, thy garb is fit
      For mourning in, and shoon and zone are loose!
      So changed thou art to sadness every whit, 
      And all that pomp and purple thou didst use, 
      That seemly sweet, that new rose on the mouth,
      Those fair-smoothed tresses, and that graceful zone,
      Bright sandals, and the rest thou haddest on,
      Are all departed, gone to nought together!
      And now thou walkest mournful in the train
      Of mourning women! -- where and whence, again?

      From earth to God my Father.

STRANGER:			       Dost thou say
That earth of Love is desolated?

LOVE:				   Yea!
It so much scorned me.	    

STRANGER:		   Scorned?

LOVE:				      And cast me out
From its door.

STRANGER:	  From its door?

LOVE:				   As if without
I had my lot to die!

           by Theodore Prodromus

     Ah me!  what tears mine eyes are welling forth,
     To witness in this synagogue of earth
     Wise men speak wisely while the scoffers sing,
     And rich men folly, for much honoring!
     Melitus trifles, -- Socrates decrees
     Our further knowledge!  Death to Socrates,
     And long life to Melitus!

     Chiefdom of evil, gold!  blind child of clay,
     Gnawing with fixed tooth earth's heart away!
     Go!  perish from us!  objurgation vain
     To soulless nature, powerless to contain
     One ill unthrust upon it!  Rather perish
     That turpitude of crowds, by which they cherish
     Bad men for their good fortune, or condemn, 
     Because of evil fortune, virtuous men!

     Oh, for a trumpet mouth!  an iron tongue
     Sufficient for all speech!  foundations hung
     High on Parnassus' top to bear my feet!
     So from that watch-tower, words which shall be meet,
     I may out-thunder to the nations near me --

     "Ye worshippers of gold, poor rich men, hear me!
     Where do ye wander?  -- for what object stand?
     That gold is earth's ye carry in your hand, 
     And floweth earthward; bad men have its curse
     The most profusely:  would yourselves be worse
     So to be richer?  -- better in your purse?
     Your royal purple -- 't was a dog that found it!
     Your pearl of price -- a sickened oyster owned it!
     Your glittering gems are pebbles, dust-astray;
     Your palace pomp was wrought of wood and clay,
     Smoothed rock and moulded plinth!  earth's clay, earth's wood,
     Earth's common-hearted stones!  Is this your mood,
     To honor earth, to worship earth, nor blush?"

     What dost thou murmur savage mouth?  Hush, hush,
     Thy wrath is vainly breathed.  The depth to tread
     Of God's deep judgements, was not Paul's, he said.


18. LIFE,
             by Theodore Prodromus

    Oh, take me, thou mortal, -- thy LIFE for thy praiser!
    Thou hast met, found and seized me, and know'st what my ways are.
    Nor leave me for slackness, nor yield me for pleasure,
    Nor look up too saintly, nor muse beyond measure!
    There's the veil from my head -- see the worst of my mourning!
    There are wheels to my feet -- have a dread of their turning!
    There are wings round my waist -- I may flatter and flee thee!
    There are yokes on my hands -- fear the chains I decree thee!
    Hold -me-! hold a shadow, the winds as they quiver;
    Hold -me-! hold a dream, smoke, a track on the river.

    Oh! take me, thou mortal, -- thy Life for thy praiser,
    Thou hast met not, and seized not, nor know'st what my ways are!
    Nay, frown not, and shrink not, nor call me an aspen;
    There's the veil from my head! I have dropped from thy clasping!
    A fall-back within it I soon may afford thee;
    There are wheels to my feet -- I may roll back toward thee!
    There are wings round my waist -- I may flee back and clip thee!
    There are yokes on my hands -- I may soon cease to whip thee!
    Take courage! I rather would hearten than hip thee!



a) "The Phoenix", by John Tzetza (twelfth century).

    A Phoenix is a single bird and synchronous with nature;
    The peacock cannot equal him in beauty or in stature.
    In radiance he outshines the gold; the world in wonder yieldeth;
    His nest he fixeth in the trees, and all of spices buildeth.
    And when he dies, a little worm, from out his body twining,
    Doth generate him back again whene'er the sun is shining.
    He lives in Aegypt, and he dies in Aethiopia only, as
    Asserts Philostratus, who wrote the life of Apollonius.
    And (as the wise Aegyptian scribe, the holy scribe, Chaeremon,
    Hath entered on these Institutes, all centre their esteem on)
    Seven thousand years and six of age, this phoenix of the story
    Expireth from the fair Nile side, whereby he had his glory.

b) "The Grecophile Herons", by Manuel Phile (fourteenth century).

    A Grecian island nourisheth to bless
    A race of herons in all nobleness.
    If some barbarian bark approach the shore,
    They hate, they flee, -- no eagle can outsoar!
    But if by chance an Attic voice be wist,
    They grow softhearted straight, philhellenist;
    Press on in earnest flocks along the strand,
    And stretch their wings out to the comer's hand.
    Perhaps he nears them with a gentle mind, --
    They love his love, though foreign to their kind!
    For so the island giveth winged teachers,
    In true love lessons, to all wingless creatures.

c) from "Fifth Anacreontic Hymn", by Maximus Margunius (sixteenth 

    Take me as a hermit lone
    With a desert life and moan;
    Only Thou anear to mete
    Slow or quick my pulse's beat;
    Only Thou, the night to chase
    With the sunlight in Thy face!
    Pleasure to the eyes may come
    From a glory seen afar,
    But if life concentre gloom
    Scattered by no little star,
    Then, how feeble, God, we are!
    Nay, whatever bird there be,
    (Aether by his flying stirred),
    He, in this thing, must be free --
    And I, Saviour, am Thy bird,
    Pricking with an open beak
    At the words that Thou dost speak!
    Leave a breath upon my wings,
    That above these nether things
    I may rise to where Thou art,
    I may flutter next Thine heart!
    For if a light within me burn,
    It must be darkness in an urn,
    Unless, within its crystalline,
    That unbeginning light of Thine
    Shine!  oh Saviour, -let- it shine!


                 by Manuel Phile

   O living Spirit, O falling of God-dew,
   O Grace which dost console us and renew,
   O vital light, O breath of angelhood,
   O generous ministration of things good,
   Creator of the visible, and best
   Upholder of the great unmanifest
   Power infinitely wise, new boon sublime
   Of science and of art, constraining might,
   In whom I breathe, live, speak, rejoice, and write, --
   Be with us in all places, for all time!


The St. Pachomius Orthodox Library, Lent 1996.

O Lord, remember Thy servants, Elizabeth, translator; Nigel; Donald; 
Shelly; Paul; Kate; Stephen; Tykhon; John; Paul; Mariette; John; the
priest Michael; James; Alexia; Edward; Mark; Marsha; Barton; Gregory; 
Karen; Kurt; Michael; Norman; and Tae Han!


               THE END, AND TO GOD BE THE GLORY!