Recited during the Middle Ages in the Languedoc (what is now Southern France) by a pair of Cathari perfecti during a deathwatch, much as Buddhist monks recite verses from The Tibetan Book of the Dead during a deathwatch.


This poem is my own invention.  I dedicate it to my father who passed away before I could recite it to him, to those who confront the uncertainties of life and death with no solid spiritual shield, and to those who must die one more time before they may apply it…



Never fear,

Oh Nobly Born,

For you are Saved.


Christ will shoulder

Your Karmic Burden,

No matter how damning

It may seem to you.


Breathe deeply,

Breathe softly,

Oh Nobly Born.


Close your eyes

And be at peace.

Die easy, die sweetly,

And rest in peace,

One last time.


Let your soul unfold

From your failing body,

With confidence, joy and hope;

As you would approach

Your coming nuptials,

As Christ taught us to.


Oh Nobly Born!

You have bailed out of myriad bodies,

Before this one,

In just as many death agonies.

So many lifetimes

Filled with pain and anguish

That shaped your destiny

Up until this day.


You are free from all that now.


The next time you escape

From this mortal coil,

The way a fighter pilot would

Bail out of his burning plane,

Your discarnate soul

Will drift through space and time

Until you tire of this dreary drudgery,

Its hard vacuum and murky silence.


You may as well review,

Like a jaded old tourist,

Some of the stars in heaven,

And watch universes

Cohere, spin up and die,

In cosmic beauty;

Or just take in the birdsong,

And the perfume of flowers growing,

From the rise of the sun until it sets.


You may cross paths

With Beasts, Angels and Daemons

The reflections of your previous

Desires, Hopes and Fears,

Whom you may touch

And be touched by,

For good or ill.


You may linger on Earth,

Wander through homes on the range,

Haunt familiar places and strange ones,

Revisit old children and lovers,

Give them goose bumps

At your unseen approach.

You’ll suffer loss, solitude and sickness of heart,

For as long as you can bear it.


You will soon tire of this,

Oh Nobly Born.

Sooner or later,

Your soul will yearn,

More and more starving

For a new, carnal life,

As urgently as the need to piss.


You will tumble back into life,

Fall backward into it,

The way a rock would find its depth,

And water its downward rush,

Into the dim clearness of life



Once your ravenous soul

Yearns for its next life,

You will defer your return,

To review a host of conceptions

In keen appraisal

Of a worthy rebirth

Into this world.


Oh Nobly Born!

Seek the psychic beacons

Of Mary's Immaculate Conception

And Christ’s Resurrection!


A flare-strobed heavy runway

With a divine beacon at each end,

On an otherwise lifeless plain,

Of furtive couplings and lugubrious deaths,

Mournful, carnal and gray.


Ignore the tidal pull

Of Karma, Fear, Familiarity and Desire

That will con you to seek rebirth

In an earthly infant,

In a household setting,

Among your familiars,

And back onto the Wheel of Desire and Death.


Oh Nobly Born!

Give up your family,

Your beloved friends,

Your many households,

All your possessions.

Take up His Cross instead.


Be born again unto His Spirit,

Just as much as into His flesh.


Recall His many parables.

They make good sense in this context,

And not much in any other.


Take hold of His lifeline,

Relive His lifetime,

His sacred Life

That you could have led 

Had you held true faith.


But God is merciful,

Even unto the merciless

Even unto evil.

Even unto you,

Oh Nobly Born.


Review and repent

Your many massive sins

In the perfect radiance

Of His Lifetime and His Agony.


Oh Nobly Born!

How you will wish

You had obeyed God to the letter

And had submitted wholly—

So harshly will your conscience

Torment you.


You will pass in review your many betrayals

During His Lifetime.

For thirty some years,

For every one of your sins

You will repent a hundredfold,

And in each of your good deeds,

You will find a dab of balm

For your sin-flayed soul.


This wincing recollection will allow you

To speak His Words with utmost sincerity

And observe the world through His eyes

With divine clarity,

The beam at last removed from yours.


Have faith when they crowd in

To betray you to the crucifix.

Lower your head for His crown of thorns,

Grateful for this distraction

From your utter worthlessness.


Oh Nobly Born.

Your suffering is almost over,

And His mercy

Might even spare you

The torture He must undergo.


His long afternoon of Agony

May seem to you the last twinge

Of your incessant torment;

His Calvary, going up Golgotha,

The last, faltering steps

Of your ascent to Paradise. 


No more rebirths for you

On the Wheel of Desire and Death.


You may go with Him, instead

Straight to Heaven,

That very evening,

You and the repentant thief, Dismas.


There you will find God

Waiting for you:

His only Son

And His boon companions,

Welcome prodigals.


There will you find those

Who had flung themselves

From the Wheel of Desire and Death,

And had taken up His Cross.


There you will rejoin your intimates,

Oh Nobly Born.

Sooner or later,

After one less death,

Or one more, or many,

They will precede or follow you

Along this path.


He promised

To keep this Way open,

And prepare many rooms in Heaven

For each of us,

His children.


Do not bother

With considerations

Of space and time,

Before and after,

Singularity and multiplicity,

And which soul belongs to which body.


The weakness of your faith

Blinds you to the fact

That you might pluck out an eye

Or hack off an arm,

Should they offend you,

Without much care,

So little do those things matter

During the make-believe that is your life

Which seems so terribly important.


You cannot fathom

This material world

In the light of Truth,

Much less matters of Spirit.


Have a little faith,

Just a shred of hope,

Oh Nobly Born,

And you will be Saved.


No-one can take this from you,

No-one can talk you out of it,

Or extract it from you,

Not by force, not by sentiment,

Not by lying, not by persuasion.

Tell them anything they want to hear.

It won’t matter.


You will die in any case

And thus be free,

Perfectly, miraculously free

To choose the Cross and Paradise,

Else wrack yourself once again

Upon the Wheel.


You could indeed choose to come back

Or could be asked to, nicely,

Help your brethren find their way,

Bring a few more lost lambs,

Oh Bodhisattva,

Into the fold of God.


Or yearn for the next return,

To the good old days of desire and ignorance:

The next hard lesson,

The next chance to do it the hard way;

Or merely cringe

Before Christ's fated Agony and yours,

Else your unworthiness for this honor;

And submit once again

To the Wheel.


You are perfectly free to choose,

Oh Nobly Born.


Great the Father,

Great the Son

Great the Holy Spirit,

The Comforter

Jesus left us pending His Return.


For it is through Them

That all are Saved

Who choose to be,

Who look and see,

Who listen and hear.


Fear not,

Oh Nobly Born.

Even though everything that lives must perish,

And do so over and over;

Yet we may be reborn and saved,

Just as soon as we choose,

We, the ready and willing,

As promised.


(The perfecti have left the room…

          Repeat alone

          Matthew 6-9, the Lord’s Prayer).




Learner, begin