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A Miralogia

11 August 2019


A song for the dead, from the Deep Mani

Mani is the barren and lonely landscape at the southwestern tip of the middle leg of the Peloponnesus, Greece’s great peninsula, and the setting for Isolation. This second novelette in the Abrasion series explores our need for human connection and the unique reasons why, for a couple of characters who share the stage at a critical moment in history, this need goes painfully unmet.

I created this poem in the style of the mirologia, a mourning song for the dead unique to Mani. It represents a key character’s devotion to an old priest who welcomed him when few others would have. The short poem draws on imagery from the tradition, where for example a cyprus tree will often represent the deceased, and on the physical spaces the main character haunts to describe the aging and infirm priest – the “quaking dome” within a “ruined church”. The loose rhyme scheme is A-B-C-D–D-C-B-A ….


O Cyprus Tree of deepest root!
O flow of holy water!
Thy ruined church
(with quaking dome)
yet bore a beaming welcome
to thy warm and humble hutch;
to host a prideful sinner,
to cleanse of direst soot.