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
–Hagia 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.


My older daughter is an environmentalist.

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