Today is the feast of Saint Basil and Saint Gregory of Nazianzus. I was going to post some thoughts on Saint Basil and the development of Cappadocian monasticism that have been going through my head, and which I’ve been intending writing on, but have not had the time and am too tired for anything serious now. Instead, I’m stealing the following poem, which the sadly missing Felix Culpa posted on Ora et Laboraa year ago, give or take some calendar differences. It’s from Father John McGuckin’s Saint Gregory of Nazianzus: An Intellectual Biography, a book that is on my “to be read” list.

Of all the ancients
You I think I could live with,
(some of the time)
comfortable in you
like an old coat
sagged and fraying at the back,
(its pockets drooping with important nothings
like string, and manuscripts of poems)
perfect for watching you off your guard,
rambling round your country garden,
planting roses, not turnips,
contrary to the manual
for a sensible monk;
master of the maybe;
anxious they might take you up all wrong;
shaking your fist at an Emperor,
(once he had turned the corner
out of sight);
every foray into speech
a coasted regret.

Your heart was like a spider’s silk
swinging wildly at the slightest breeze,
too tender for this tumbling world
of mountebanks, and quacks and gobs,
but turned to hear the distant voices
of the singing stars
and marvel at the mercy of it all.

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