|Text source||R. Meesters, R. Ricceri 2018, A Twelfth-Century Cycle of Four Poems on John Klimax. Editio princeps, in A. Rhoby, N. Zagklas (eds.), Middle and Late Byzantine Poetry. Texts and Contexts, Turnhout, 285-386: 312-321|
|Text status||Text completely known|
|Editorial status||Critical text|
The meadows have various flowers
from different origin, many and diverse.
Some of them are joyful to look at,
some have only a pleasant perfume,
others feed and sweeten divinely
the throat and the stomach.
This garden, bearing fruit from John,
ripe and full of juice,
is proud to provide also well-shaped trees
with green leaves covered with dew,
whose blossoming beautifies the grace.
It is full of grasslands with a sweet smell
and a stream of rainwater running through it
fills the garden with the sweetness of humidity.
Let us look what this means.
The ground of the garden, I mean of this book,
is the whole writing: consider the material of this writing,
whose shape is sweet to behold and beautifully adorned.
The beautiful, large trees are the lessons,
the branches of the trees and their twigs are the words:
just as one virtue develops many virtues,
so one word on one lesson develops many words,
small, partial, subtle, refined, brief words.
Their leaves are faith, which does not have any prickle,
any saying in contradiction with the divine fathers.
One initiate called this gangrene,
the basis of evil and the foundation of deceit.
The fruit of the words are the deeds.
In the garden flies a large group of winged creatures,
from here and there they migrate to the marsh-meadow
and they sleep in abodes that are hung up high.
In the garden, a group of winged solitary birds,
lightened, relieved, unconcerned, without livelihood,
sits down and is glad and rejoices
dwelling in the thickness of thoughts
while not being capable to understand everything precisely,
since the condition of words and deeds is different.
The birds approach, in the valleys, wonderful flowers,
which breath out the sweetest scent.
These are, as I think, the words of the prayer
which David has called “like incense”;
these please the mind of God more than (real) flowers,
as the throat of one who is fasting,
as the tongue, as the voice of one who sings psalms.
On the one hand the sun, rising straight,
with shining bright all penetrating rays,
manifests the morning view from afar,
also making a fiery red refraction.
On the other hand throwing powerful sparkles,
it does not heat up with a high intensity
so as to burn the trees with fire-bearing rays,
but it ripens and protects and feeds
the fruit of the trees, while, conveniently, the holy Spirit,
as he likes, breathes together with
the equally honourable and powerful Word.
Springs divide the garden in the middle,
pleasant along with a breeze, abundant from the wells.
(They are) the drops, the drips of the tears,
so that the trees might grow with the flow.
Because only mourning teaches this,
increasing the understanding of good in a peculiar way,
it gives knowledge taking from knowledge,
it gives after having taken and it takes after having given:
and it draws this as a circle through the Word.
From there they ripen all kinds of fruits,
smell good and protect the gardeners,
and every day they are a guide of the souls.
Such is for us the beautiful garden.
It blossoms, shoots, flourishes and ripens
the greatest, triple shining, abundant,
thrice-greatest and splendidly adorned grace.
This is the book, this is the codex of yours:
o you, sea, saviour of my ship,
o you who renounced the earthly sea a long time ago,
o ornament of your lineage, ornamented by your behaviour,
o benevolent patron of the poor,
o guide of the soul and benefactor of strangers,
o mediator with kindness of the moderates.
When living well because of this book, dear friend,
be sensibly grateful toward its creator for this good life,
and if you grow the fruitful faith,
you will pick the spiritual flower of prosperity,
bearing the honourable sign of kindness.
What it is, you will apprehend, if you want,
because you got a sharp consideration, received from God
which enables you to be frequently noble in words,
sharp in the height of decisions,
pleasant in the wealth of questions,
fast in the vigour of thoughts.
This (poem) is for you, who love the words,
dedicated by us as an offering of words.
This (poem) is a witness and a warrant of our desire,
in exchange because you gave the desire in us as a pledge,
and you have offered your assiduous right hand,
not twice, not thrice, but numberless times
in response to the lament heard. This (poem) is a painter of
your love, which you have placed as a kind of program for us,
and which you carve suitably in our heart,
an unchangeable memory of your love.
The entire future will receive this (poem),
which will for ever celebrate the merciful grace
of the proof of your benevolence towards us.
|Comment||This poem functions as a spiritual preparation to the Ladder (cf. Meesters - Ricceri (2018: 293)).
On the authorship of this cycle of poems, see Meesters - Ricceri (2018: 299-303).
|Number of verses||102|
|Identification||Vassis ICB 2005, 278: "In Ioann. Climaci Scalam Paradisi: cf. (...) "|