Ava

(1060 – 7 February 1127)

John Is Executed - Poem by Ava

In those times there occurred
Herod’s birthday.
The tyrant went
into the palace of Herod
to the feast,
which he celebrated with zest,
with dancing and with singing,
dressed in finest silk.
As the king was seated at table,
many a golden vessel was brought out.
When the daughter was asked to come forward,
the maiden entertained very well.
She began to sing beautifully,
to dance swiftly
to the tune of harps and fiddles,
of flutes and lyres,
in royal apparel
before the whole multitude.
Then king Herod spoke
in the wantonness of his life:
“Your dance pleases me very much.
Listen to what I want to say to you:
Now from all my realm ask me
for whatever you like!
Whether I like it or not,
I will not deny you anything.”
Then the daughter said secretly:
“Mother, what is your wish?”
Immediately answered
the she-devil Herodias:
“Ask for nothing else
but the head of John.
You are to ask that it be cut off,
carried into this hall
before the multitude onto this table.
Be certain, that is what I wish.”
The girl went out and stood
before the horrible man.
She said: “King, I ask you
that you grant me this:
nothing other
than the head of John.
Order that it be cut off,
brought in here before you
and put onto this table!
Be certain, that is what will please me!”
The king spoke sadly
thus to the woman and declared:
“I am inwardly sorry
that today I swore this oath.
Nevertheless I will fulfill
everything you wish.”
Then he ordered two of his men
to go to the dungeon,
cut off the man’s head
and bring it in
before the whole multitude,
and give it to the woman.
When John realized that death was approaching him,
he lifted up his hands to God.
He was inwardly joyful
and commended his soul to God.
They dragged the man out the door.
Then his holy life was over.
They cut off his head
and gave it to the king.
Then he gave it to that most wicked woman
together with the holiest body
which, apart from Christ, was ever born
and because of God’s righteousness was killed.
In heaven the angelic throngs
rejoice over him.
Holy Christendom too celebrates;
his praise spreads far and wide
in heaven and on earth.
Yes, this upright man of God
—truly, beyond words—
is a helper for us.


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Poem Submitted: Friday, May 18, 2012



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