Hagia Sophia

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Hagia Sophia, the Lord commanded
That nations and kings should stop here!
For your cupola, in the words of eye-witness,
As on a chain, is suspended from the heaven.

Justinian set an example for all ages,
When Diana of Ephesus permitted
To steal for alien Gods
One hundred and seven green marble columns.

But what was in the mind of your generous builder,
Dignified in his soul and thought,
When he located the apses and the exedras,
Pointing them to West and East?

The temple bathed in the world is beautiful,
And the forty windows are the triumph of light;
And the four archangels in the pendentives
Beneath the cupola are the most striking.

And the wise spherical construction
Will survive nations and centuries,
And the seraphim’s resonant sobbing
Will not distort the dark gilded surfaces.

1912


Other translations:[edit]

Translation by Ian Probstein