Woe to him whom this world charms from Gospel duty. Woe to him who seeks to pour oil upon the waters when God has brewed them into a gale. Woe to him who seeks to please rather than to appal. Woe to him whose good name is more to him than goodness. Woe to him who, in this world, courts not dishonor! Woe to him who would not be true, even though to be false were salvation. Yea, woe to him who, as the great Pilot Paul has it, while preaching to others is himself a castaway.
Song in the Manner of Housman" O woe, woe, People are born and die, We also shall be dead pretty soon Therefore let us act as if we were dead already. The bird sits on the hawthorn tree But he dies also, presently. Some lads get hung, and some get shot. Woeful is this human lot. Woe! woe, etcetera.... London is a woeful place, Shropshire is much pleasanter. Then let us smile a little space Upon fond nature's morbid grace. Oh, Woe, woe, woe, etcetera....
But yet, but yet, woe, woe unto those who think that the Beat Generation means crime, delinquency, immorality, amorality ... woe unto those who attack it on the grounds that they simply don't understand history and the yearning of human souls ... woe in fact unto those who make evil movies about the Beat Generation where innocent housewives are raped by beatniks! ... woe unto those who spit on the Beat Generation, the wind'll blow it back.
What is it that endowed things with meaning, value, significance? The creating heart, which desired, and, out of its desire, created. It created joy and woe. It wanted to satiate itself with woe. We must take all the suffering that has been endured by men and animals upon ourselves and affirm it, and possess a goal in which it acquires reason.
Behold, O Lord, that I am indignant with myself, for my senseless, profitless, hurtful, perilous passions; that I loathe myself, for these inordinate, unseemly, deformed, false, shameful, disgraceful passions; that my confusion is daily before me, and the shame of my face hath covered me. Alas! woe, woe! O me, how long?
... men... who say that there is no one in our times and in our midst who is able to keep the Gospel commandments and become like the holy Fathers? To them the Master rightly says with a loud voice, 'Woe to you scribes and Pharisees (Mt. 23:13)! Woe to you, blind guides of the blind (Mt. 23:16), because you do not enter into the kingdom, and you hinder those who wish to enter' (Mt. 23:13).
Symeon the New Theologian
Unjust war is to be abhorred; but woe to the nation that does not make ready to hold its own in time of need against all who would harm it! And woe thrice over to the nation in which the average man loses the fighting edge, loses the power to serve as a soldier if the day of need should arise!
There is a wisdom that is woe; but there is a woe that is madness. And there is a Catskill eagle in some souls that can alike dive down into the blackest gorges, and soar out of them again and become invisible in the sunny spaces. And even if he for ever flies within the gorge, that gorge is in the mountains; so that even in his lowest swoop the mountain eagle is still higher than other birds upon the plain, even though they soar.
Give me yourself, O my God, give yourself back to me. Lo, I love you, but if my love is too mean, let me love more passionately. I cannot gauge my love, nor know how far it fails, how much more love I need for my life to set its course straight into your arms, never swerving until hidden in the covert of your face. This alone I know, that without you all to me is misery, woe outside myself and woe within, and all wealth but penury, if it is not my God.
O Woe to his blinded soul! Saying this, he as it were said to God: "Thou Thyself are guilty, because the woman whom Thou gavest me hast deceived me." This very same thing I myself now suffer, wretched and miserable, when I do not desire to be humbled, and to say with my whole soul that I myself am guilty of my perdition. But on the contrary I say: "That person over there inspired me to do or say this. He advised me and knocked me off the path." Woe is my poor soul which speaks such words filled with sin! O most shameless and irrational words of a shameless and irrational soul!
Symeon the New Theologian
There is too wide a gap, for most of us, between what we say and what we mean. Between our words and our thoughts. The first thing the Prophet Isaiah said when he saw the living and exalted God was, 'Woe is me, I am ruined. For I am a man of unclean lips and I live among a people of unclean lips' (Isaiah 6:5). Isaiah was one of the most godly men who ever walked the earth. But seeing God, he sees also, abrupt and stark and grief-making, his own duplicity. Then God does what only God can do: he sears his lips clean (Isaiah 6:6-7). And herein lies our hope: truly seeing God, we truly see ourselves, in all our woe-begotten duplicity; but crying out to God, we are truly and greatly helped.