Beliefnet
From his early years as a quarry worker, seminary student, and priest, Karol Wojtyla--the man who would become Pope John Paul II--wrote poetry. For years his verses were published under pseudonyms in Poland until his election as pope, when they were identified and published around the world. Below is a selection of his poems from the book "The Place Within: The Poetry of Pope John Paul II" (Random House, 1994).

Over This Your White Grave
Over this your white grave
the flowers of life in white-
so many years without you-
how many have passed out of sight?

Over this your white grave
covered for years, there is a stir
in the air, something uplifting
and, like death, beyond comprehension.

Over this your white grave
oh, mother, can such loving cease?
for all his filial adoration
a prayer:
Give her eternal peace-

-Cracow, spring 1939

Song of the Brightness of Water
From this depth-I came only to draw water
in a jug-so long ago, this brightness
still clings to my eyes-the perception I found,
and so much empty space, my own
reflected in the well.

Yet it is good. I can never take all of you
into me. Stay then as a mirror in the well.
Leaves and flowers remain, and each astonished gaze
brings them down
to my eyes transfixed more by light
Than by sorrow.

-1950

Actor
So many grew around 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?

-1957
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