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Classic and Contemporary Poetry

MONASTIC POEM (1), by                    
First Line: All alone in my little cell
Last Line: And I there all alone
Subject(s): Monasteries; Abbeys

All alone in my little cell
with no one for company,
I love this place of pilgrimage
now while I still have life.
A hut remote and hidden
for repenting of all sin,
with upright conscience, unafraid
in the face of holy Heaven.
With a body that good habits
made holy, treading it down,
and eyes worn out and tearful
with penance for my desires,
with weak, subdued desires
and denial of the wretched world,
with innocent, eager thoughts,
so let us sue to God.
With sincere lamentations
up to cloudy Heaven,
earnest devout confession,
intense tears in torrents;
on a cold, nervous bed
-- as a doomed man might lie down --
with short, anxious sleep
and prayer early and often.
As to property and food
our one wish -- to abstain.
For certain what I eat
will be no cause of sin:
dry bread measured out
with virtuous head bowed low,
and water from the bright hill
our proper draught to drink.
A salt and meagre diet
with mind bent on a book;
no disputation, visitation;
conscience serene and calm.
How wonderful it would be
-- some pure and holy blemish,
cheeks dried and sunken in,
skin leathery and lean!
Christ, God's Son, to visit me,
my Maker and my King,
my spirit turning toward Him
and the Kingdom where He dwells.
And let the place that shelters me
behind monastic walls
be a lovely cell, with pillars pure,
and I there all alone.

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