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Pope’s three-part poem Triptych published

Vatican City, March 6 (Reuters): Verses about undulating slopes, silvery cascades of mountain streams, life, death, love, eternity. It may sound like the stuff of Walt Whitman, Robert Frost or William Wordsworth but it is actually Pope John Paul.

After a break of nearly a quarter of a century imposed by the weight of his office, the Pope published poems today and showed that he had not lost one of his early passions.

Called Roman Triptych, the three-part, 14-page poem is a wide-ranging meditation that touches on some of the cornerstones of the Pope’s life and includes a reference to his own death.

In Meditations on the Book of Genesis at the Threshold of the Sistine Chapel, part two of the poem, the Pope reflects on the frescoed hall in the Vatican’s Apostolic Palace where he was elected and where his successor will be chosen.

He paints a picture of the cardinals as they make their momentous decision on who to elect as Roman Catholic leader, under Michelangelo’s awesome ceiling frescoes of the Creation and the Last Judgment altar wall.

He writes:

So it will be again, when the need arises after my death.

Michelangelo’s vision must then speak to them.

‘Conclave’: a joint concern for the legacy of the Keys of the Kingdom.

They will find themselves between the Beginning and the End.

Between the Day of Creation and the Day of Judgment.

It is given to man once to die and after that the judgment!

The first part, called The Stream, is nothing less than an awe-struck ode to nature.

The undulating wood descends to the rhythm of mountain streams...

If you want to find the source,

you have to go up, against the current,

tear through, seek, don’t give up,

you know it must be somewhere here.

Where are you, source' Where are you, source'!

And the 82-year-old Pope shows that not even 25 often heavy years in office, including an assassination attempt, have dented his appreciation of the sensuality of nature.

Allow me to wet my lips

in spring water,

to feel its freshness,

reviving freshness.

The Pope wrote the poetry longhand in Polish in the quiet of his lakeside summer residence south of Rome, reopening a chapter of his life he had once told a reporter “is closed”.

Besides the Polish original, English, Italian, French, German and Spanish translations were also published today.

The third part of the poem is a meditation on the story of Abraham, the Biblical figure honoured by all three of the great monotheistic religions — Christianity, Islam and Judaism.

It is set in Ur, Abraham’s birthplace, in modern-day Iraq but there is no reference to the current crisis.

The Pope was a prolific poet before his 1978 election as Roman Catholic leader.

Age, ailment and the shadow of death apparently have given him fresh inspiration.

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