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Last Updated: Wednesday, 3 March, 2004, 10:50 GMT
Pope poems top one million copies
Pope John Paul II
The Pope wrote the poems at his summer residence outside Rome
More than one million copies of a poetry anthology by Pope John Paul II have been published in 20 languages, the Vatican has announced.

The pontiff first published the poems in 2003 but the print run was expanded after sales topped 300,000 in his native Poland.

An aide said the Pope worked alone on his poems though he was given advice by his friend and poet Marek Skwarnicki.

Many of his verses are about nature, including river poem The Stream.

The collection, titled Roman Triptych, has been translated into languages including Romanian, Korean and Japanese.

About 600,000 copies have been printed in Poland, according to Vatican spokesman Ciro Benedettini.

There are also plans to publish the poems in Dutch, Hungarian, Czech, Basque, Catalan, Russian, Norwegian, Portuguese and Indian language Malayalam.

An extract from his poem, The Stream, reads as follows:

If you want to find the source
You have to go up, against the current
Tear through, seek, don't give up.
You know it must be somewhere here.
Where are you, source?
Where are you, source?

In another poem, the Pope touches on the prospect of this own death when he describes the frescoed Sistine Chapel where cardinals gathered to elect him pope in 1978.

He writes: "And so it will be again, when the need arises after my death."

The third part is a meditation on the story of Abraham, the Biblical figure honoured by Christianity, Islam and Judaism.

It is set in Ur, Abraham's birthplace, in modern-day Iraq - but there is no reference to the current situation there.

The work includes drawings by Michelangelo and two pages of photocopied text in the Pope's handwriting.

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