St. Gregory the Theologian: a poem

January 18, 2008

Gregory of Nazianzus, poem 2.1.78, Ad suam animam (To his own soul)

You have a job to do, soul, and a great one, if you like:
Examine yourself, what thing you are, and towards what you are turning;
Where do you come from, and where shall you end,
And is life this very life you’re living, or something else besides?

You have a job to do, soul; by these things cleanse your life.
Make me to know God and God’s mysteries.
What was before the universe, and why does the universe exist for you?
Where has it come from, and where is it going?

You have a job to do, soul, by these things cleanse your life.
How does God guide and turn the universe:
Or why are some things permanent, others transient,
And us especially, in this changing life?

You have a job to do, soul: look to God alone.
What was my glory once, and what this present hybris?
What my interweaving, and what the end of my life?
Of these things inform me, and check the mind from wandering.

You have a job to do, soul: may you suffer no injury in the labor.

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