Gone the Black Night (For Jerome, Priest and Biblical Scholar)

Often I would find myself entering those crypts, deep dug in the earth, with their walls on either side lined with the bodies of the dead, where everything was so dark that almost it seemed as though the Psalmist’s words were fulfilled, Let them go down quick into Hell. Here and there the light, not entering in through windows, but filtering down from above through shafts, relieved the horror of the darkness. But again, as soon as you found yourself cautiously moving forward, the black night closed around and there came to my mind the line of Vergil, “Horror ubique animos, simul ipsa silentia terrent”.
(Jerome, Commentarius in Ezzechielem)

If the light of day keeps our eyes from truly seeing,
If the blackness of night is veiled from our sight,
If we sink softly, slowly, imperceptibly,
Cities, empires, disintegrating;

Then this truthful sight might shock us:
Our blackened cores inside our night,
All our best intentions proven soot,
All our wisdom dead at sunset.

And yet this stench of death around us
Is not the herald of our doom;
For when we see ourselves amid shadows,
Then we may see day as it is:

Not a false and feeble dream,
Nor a scholar hiding at his books,
But Love as arms outstretching over
Night and Death, that black abyss,

And know the truth that snatches us out
From the dark that we have chosen,
Lights our souls as salvaged candles,
Snuffs out death and conquers night.

2 thoughts on “Gone the Black Night (For Jerome, Priest and Biblical Scholar)

  1. Hi Matt, I visited one the catacoms just outside Rome two weeks ago and can identify within St Jerome. Fortunately there are no bones to be seen these days.

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