The Sarabite: Towards an Aesthetic Christianity

There is a continuous attraction, beginning with God, going to the world, and ending at last with God, an attraction which returns to the same place where it began as though in a kind of circle. -Marsilio Ficino

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Easter Bouquet for AG - Sixth Lily


The Call:


As it is, this my knowledge of the beauty of virginity is in some sort vain and useless to me, just as the corn is to the muzzled ox that treads the floor, or the water that streams from the precipice to a thirsty man when he cannot reach it. Happy they who have still the power of choosing the better way, and have not debarred themselves from it by engagements of the secular life, as we have, whom a gulf now divides from glorious virginity: no one can climb up to that who has once planted his foot upon the secular life. We are but spectators of others' blessings and witnesses to the happiness of another class.

-St. Gregory of Nyssa, On Virginity

Fast Dance for St. Gregory of Nyssa

by

Arturo Vásquez

Up a thousand flights
Of heavens and spheres-
Fears drop away
To reveal amazing height;
Kites or angels’ wings
A dirge, paen, or ode sings
Night noise,
Calm swing, a fallen eye
That picks up the rhythm
And brightens the sky.

All real beauty is within,
Away from cowardice, pain, and sin,
Reach higher, fair flyer,
And cast off the garment of skin.


There is no gesture that
Pollutes the time,
Dare we climb then
The mountain of God-
The feet of the innocent walk
Dry-shod through the sea-
Smoking mountain,
Luminous fountain-
Face of darkness,
Bright mystery.

All real beauty is within,
Away from cowardice, pain, and sin,
Reach higher, fair flyer,
And cast off the garment of skin.


No treachery, no idol
To bury; the Lord
Is living,
Blood in the veins-
Spinning fires making
Men liars-
Who try to catch the
Image in stains-
Real love strains forward,
Ever outward,
Beyond ideas, sculptures,
Illusion and names.

All real beauty is within,
Away from cowardice, pain, and sin,
Reach higher, fair flyer,
And cast off the garment of skin.

-Newberry Springs, CA August 6th, 2004


The Response:


Lately thumbing the pages of Works and Days
I saw my Pyrre coming.

Goodbye book!

“Why in the world should I cobweb my days,”
I cried,
"With the works of Old Man Hesiod
?"

-Marcus Argentarius, from the Greek Anthology
Translated by Dudley Fitts

On Reading St. Gregory of Nyssa’s On Virginity, Six Years Later

by

Arturo Vásquez

I have read of the threat of death
And of mortal shame,
Yet I fly towards her
As a moth towards flame-

The old Cappadocian, weighed
Down by years-
Wracked by erosion of soul,
Solitude and tears-

You write so wonderfully
About cloister and cell,
And it beckons to part of
My heart to be silent and still-

But then I see her eyes
So quiet and faint,
A pipe breaks in my chest
And crushes all restraint!

You too enjoyed your bride
And dwelt happily in her gaze,
Say no more now
And let me be lost in my love’s maze!

Why should I heap dust upon my days
And offer up sacrifices to regret?
Why must I dwell in Hell’s maw,
And be trapped in his cruel net?

There she goes walking by,
To be caught in her is my fair fate.
Stay here, father, while to her I fly,
Gregory, once more you will have to stand
And wait.

-Berkeley, CA March 24th, 2007

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