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The Poet Pontiff

September 13, 1987

THOUGH IN A VERY public role, the Pope also has a private voice. For a number of years John Paul has taken the time to express another side of his character through writing poetry and plays. In that period he has published two volumes of poetry, "Easter Vigil," and "Collected Poems." Actor

So many grew round me, through me,

from my self, as it were.

I became a channel, unleashing a force

called man.

Did not the others crowding in, distort

the man that I am?

Being each of them, always imperfect,

myself to myself too near,

he who survives in me, can he ever

look at himself without fear?

Girl Disappointed in Love

With mercury we measure pain

as we measure the heat of bodies and air;

but this is not how to discover our limits--

you think you are the centre of things.

If you could only grasp that you are not;

the centre is He,

and He, too, finds no love--

why don't you see?

The human heart--what is it for?

Cosmic temperature. Heart. Mercury.

From "Collected Poems," by Karol Wojtyla, Pope John Paul II. Translated by Jerzy Peterkiewicz. Copyright 1979, 1982 by Libreria Editrice Vaticana, Vatican City. Reprinted by permission of Random House, Inc.

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