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STRATlS THALASSINOS ON T H E DEAD SEA* Sometimes one sees in chapels built on legendary sites the relevant Biblical description quoted in English and beneath it: "THIS is THE PLACE GENTLEMENV LETTER OF S. T. FROM JERUSALEM Jerusalem, ungoverned city, Jerusalem, city of refugees. Sometimes you see at noon a flock of scattered black leaves sliding across the asphalt road— Migratory birds are passing under the sun but you don't raise your head. Jerusalem, ungoverned city! Unknown tongues of Babel without relation to the grammar, to the Lives of the Saints or the Book of Psalms, that they taught you to spell out in autumn when they tied the fishing boats to the quays; unknown tongues glued like burned-out cigarette butts to decayed lips. 151 Jerusalem, city of refugees! But their eyes all speak the same word, not the word that became man, God forgive us, not journeys to see new places, but the dark train of flight where infants are fed on the dirt and the sins of their parents and the middle-aged feel the chasm broaden between the body— lagging behind like a wounded camel— and the soul with its inexhaustible courage, as they say. It is also the ships that carry them, standing upright like embalmed bishops in the holds, to moor one evening in the seaweed of the deep, softly. Jerusalem, ungoverned city! To the River Jordan three monks brought a small red caique and moored it to the banks. Three from Mount Athos sailed for three months and moored to a branch, on the Jordan banks, a refugee's offering. They hungered three months they thirsted three months 152 stayed sleepless three months and they came from Mount Athos came from Salonika the three enslaved monks. Like the Dead Sea, we are all many fathoms below the level of the Aegean. Come with me and I will show you the setting: In the Dead Sea there are no fish there is no seaweed nor any sea-urchins there is no life. There are no creatures that have a belly to suffer hunger that nourish nerves to suffer pain, THIS IS THE PLACE, GENTLEMEN! In the Dead Sea scornfulness is no one's trade no one's worry. Heart and thought congeal in salt that's full of bitterness *53 and finally join the mineral world, THIS IS THE PLACE, GENTLEMEN! In the Dead Sea enemies and friends wife and children other relations go and find them. They're in Gomorrah down on the bottom very happy they don't expect any message. GENTLEMEN, we continue our tour many fathoms below the level of the Aegean. July '42 154 ...


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