La conversión de Pablo / José Antonio Ramos Sucre

The Conversion of Paul

     The residents of that town were surprised by the ease with which I had gained the favor of the priest who presided over them and cured their souls. They pondered his extraordinary character, insisted on his doleful reserve, recalling in contrast the excess of his free youth so brusquely rectified. It was useful to point out the somber nature of his relatives, who sought tranquility in brutal distractions and clamorous delights, before incurring in mystical delirium or sinking into dementia.
     They said repentance had consumed him, that the suddenly adopted virtue had given him that appearance of a thin and unsteady tree. The serious forehead and inattentive eyes indicated the man detached from the world, who travels across the earth with wings, who listens to high aerial voices in the silence.
     He was in the habit of mortifying monologues, secluded excursions beneath the slow moon, unsociable wanderings through trees swayed by the afternoon’s aura.
     Once he tolerated my company. The stars shone newly in the atmosphere cleared by rain. Pale clouds were traveling toward the declining sun. Warm vapor was emanating from the distended earth as the day’s fire extinguished itself.
     He was advancing at my side with an old man’s fearful step, when he revealed to me the motive for his priesthood, the reason for his assiduous perfection. He would interrupt this tale under the influence an anguished fear:
     “I lived where I was born, in a city of clear gallantries, strange fables and Moorish carmens. Their rubble had to be truncated marble so as to complete the Hellenic painting of the crystalline sea and sky.
     I was returning alone through one of its ancient streets to rest from a night of orgy and passion. I was advancing through that darkness like a cave when I was stopped by a superior fright.
     Someone was opposite me in religious garb.
     I recognized the fateful apparition that augurs the supreme trance to men of my licentious and ill race, and inspires in them the invariable thought of the final stages that threaten beyond death. Then they contract dementia or conceive a desperate contrition.”

La torre de Timón (1925)

{ José Antonio Ramos Sucre, Obra completa, Caracas: Biblioteca Ayacucho, 1989 }

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