Friday, February 25, 2011

St. Jerome Penitent (by Jan Gossaert, called Mabuse), Sonnet #1

Trees are crosses and this cross a tree.
The man is diminished by hanging,
Not by his suffering -- which is only a fee
In return for what is beyond questioning --
But by the distance between himself and the earth.
There are two ways to respond to such love,
By kneeling and by not kneeling. Let death,
Which has no meaning below or above,
Being only the Sphinx with no riddle to ask,
Stop its shallow breathing just long enough
To confirm the man in his eternal task.
Let him answer silence with a barking cough. 
Only then shall I climb that tree as well
Without fear of heaven or hope of hell.

Here is another poem about St. Jerome:

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