Guest Viewpoints

Poem: Saint Sophia’s Seraphim

July 19, 2020
By Peter Jeffreys

Saint Sophia’s Seraphim

Seraphic in your august place

upholding heaven’s dome

on wings sublime.

A Byzantine space contrived

by two Greek minds

–Anthemius of Tralles

–Isidorus of Miletus

unmatched in mathematical precision

a monument ingeniously designed.

Pensive pendentive

contemplating wisdom divine

–Haghia Sophia–

in beatific stasis

dematerialized by light and color

an abstract form suspended over

marble meadows, golden fields

Justinian’s shrine 

out-dreaming Solomon.

Far below, mortal supplicants

grimaces distorted by

foolishness and madness.

Whose wisdom bade you hide

your grave iconic face?

Glittering tesserae set by

master mosaicists 

more miracle than handiwork 

–as Yeats once wrote with

Byzantine abandon–  

a gaze concealed for centuries.

Your liberated image

both awful and angelic 

conjures forth that flaming presence

barring paradise

(many-eyed, six-winged, sword-girted)

incorporeal paradox rebuking our mortality.   

Unveiled amidst great fanfare

now isolated like a winged pawn 

your aura bound by crass iconoclasts

crude brinksmanship and cynical grandstanding

(your fellow seraphim remain face-capped)

a politics demonic.

Like Gabriel we meet your gaze

with wonder and amazement

sacred beauty revealed

angelic accommodation for

this fallen human state

aesthetic reminder of celestial glories

a hovering reproach to folly 

that ever seeks yet seldom finds its cure. 


The Department of State owes George Horton an apology.

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