The Likeness of All Things
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By Karol Wojtyła (Pope John Paul II)
In a footnote to his magisterial 1998 encyclical Fides et ratio, Pope John Paul II reflects upon two questions from the Wisdom of Ben Sira: “What is man and of what use is he? What is good in him and what is evil?” These, the Pope writes, are the “questions in every human heart, as the poetic genius of every time and every people has shown.” In this collection of his own poems, written under various pseudonyms between the years 1946 and 1979, Karol Wojtyła wields that poetic genius with the selfsame aplomb, depth of feeling, and luminous insight present in his philosophical and theological writings, delving into themes of love and loss, suffering and redemption, tyranny and forgiveness, death and immortality.
Presented here in the authorized English translation by Jerzy Peterkiewicz, the fourteen cycles and their accompanying individual poems of The Likeness of All Things are an occasion simply to appreciate the talent of Pope St. John Paul II and a challenge to wrestle with the limitations of language and stand in awe of the sheer expanse of “all things that inwardly constitute man.”
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Karol Wojtyła (Saint John Paul II) (1920–2005) served as Supreme Pontiff of the Universal Church from 1978 until his death in 2005. Universally acknowledged as one of the most influential figures of the twentieth century, he worked tirelessly to spread the Gospel. In addition to fourteen papal encyclicals, his writings include A Sign of Contradiction, Love and Responsibility, and Crossing the Threshold of Hope.