The Cathedral, Burning

by T. M. Moore

Flames wreck the walls and ceilings that had stood
for centuries, scorch ancient timbers, raze
to ash that sanctuary made for praise,
and cruelly crumble sacred stone and wood
that neither wars nor revolutions could
bring down. And there – where holy hands would raise
in faith, and trusting saints sang lays
while incense spread a holy fragrance, good
and pure – dark, dreary smoke swells like a flood,
obscuring light and glory in thick haze
and ugly, bullying billows. No one prays,
but everybody weeps, as well we should,
___to see the flames of lust and lies that scathe
___the trust of innocents, and wreck their faith.

 

T. M. Moore’s poetry has appeared in numerous journals, and he has published five volumes of verse through his ministry’s imprint, Waxed Tablet Publications. He is Principal of The Fellowship of Ailbe, he and his wife, Susie, reside in Essex Junction, VT.

 

Celestial Brilliance

inspired by the Marian devotion of Catholics praying and singing during the fire at Notre Dame de Paris, April 15, 2019

by Margaret Coates

In heaven there appears a wondrous sign,
A woman vested with the sun ablaze:
The moon is at her feet, a crown arrays
Her head, where twelve stars incandescent shine.
The Virgin, honored by her Son divine,
Enjoys eternal splendor and all praise;
She dominates whatever here decays,
And reigns above her fluctuating shrine.
Her diadem makes known her glories rare;
Rich graces glowing from her fingers flare,
That God has granted her as wealth to give.
Truly, there never was another creature
Endowed with human or angelic nature
So radiant as our Queen superlative.

Margaret Coats after Anne de Marquets (1533-1588). The French poem, Sonnet CCCCIII of Sister Anne’s Sonets Spirituels (1605), can be viewed here.

Sister Anne’s sonnet is for the Feast of Our Lady’s Assumption, patronal feast of the Cathedrale Notre Dame de Paris.

In line 8 of the English poem, “fluctuating” describes the heavily fire-damaged cathedral–nearly ruined previously in its almost 900-year history–by echoing the Latin motto FLUCTUAT NEC MERGITUR (“It is storm-tossed but not submerged”) posted on social media by Anne Hidalgo, Mayor of Paris.

Line 10 alludes to the Blessed Virgin’s appearance to Saint Catherine Laboure in a Paris convent in 1830, during which rays of light streamed from some of the gems in the Virgin’s rings. She explained to Catherine, “The gems that do not glow represent the graces no one asks for.”

Margaret Coats lives in California. Long ago, she earned a PhD in English and American literature and language, but left the academic field for a better position schooling her own children. She has continued to help other homeschooling families with courses in literature and Latin, and she sings in choirs for the Traditional Latin Mass.

 

 

As Paris Burns…

by Joe Tessitore

Nothing to worry about,
as ancient Church spires
are fueling the fires
that blaze through the night
in the City of Light –
arson’s already ruled out.

Joe Tessitore is a retired New York City resident and poet.

 

 


Views expressed by individual poets and writers on this website and by commenters do not represent the views of the entire Society. The comments section on regular posts is meant to be a place for civil and fruitful discussion. Pseudonyms are discouraged. The individual poet or writer featured in a post has the ability to remove any or all comments by emailing submissions@ classicalpoets.org with the details and under the subject title “Remove Comment.”

30 Responses

  1. Mariela Guerra

    The broad hand of smog grapples the lung;
    The morrow grows uncertain—
    As destruction sets eye ’pon the foot
    Whence virtue laid unpester’d;
    Now antiquity proves but in ash,
    Modernity does follow
    To its wretch’d fate, uttering, “alas!”
    But dreams sustain soul’s visage—
    And dreams fore’er remain.

    Reply
    • Monty

      Phew!
      It may be deemed insular, Mariela (and in breach of the ‘no preconceptions’ rule): but I sometimes find that I can’t begin reading an unrhymed poem with the same fervour as I would a rhymed one. But as I started to address your piece, I somehow spotted the words ‘grapples’ and ‘morrow’ before I’d even started reading. Now, I realise that those two words are hardly esoteric; but one doesn’t hear them everyday (especially ‘morrow’: which I never hear these days). So, that gave me a little jolt: “This poem might be something a bit different” . . which afforded me that extra bit of fervour with which to begin reading.

      By the time I’d reached the end of line 2, I somehow sensed or felt that the meter and syllabic-count contained within the 2nd line was gonna be maintained in every 2nd line thereafter: and so it transpired. Naturally, I then couldn’t resist having a peek to see if the same discipline had been applied to every 1st line (1st, 3rd, and so on) . . ‘course it did!

      Thus, with the formalities now over, I got into a slightly comfier position: and simply read the piece from first to last. I already knew that I was entirely captivated when I was only halfway through it; by the time I’d finished . . I was drooling. I then read it another 5 or 6 times.

      Phew, indeed! After composing myself, I began to suspect that this could be the richest use of language that I’ve seen in a single poem on SCP. . . it’s gorgeous. Timelessly written; and flawless in all disciplines (grammar, diction, etc). It’s also irresistably affecting in its seemingly-heartfelt sentiment. Another quality is your chosen placements for the apostrophes to lose a syllable: I suppose ”pon’ is fairly standard, but ‘wretch’d’ and ‘fore’er’ are most imaginative. (I’m not sure one was required in ‘unpester’d’, ‘cos, in speech, it sounds the same with or without the third ‘e’)

      Well, after endowing such lavish praise on your piece, Marelia, you might imagine that I could claim to’ve grasped the general gist of the poem . . but I’m not entirely sure that I have! And that’s down to what I see as the poem’s strongest quality: the unobvious and seemingly-disguised way in which it’s written. The hidden meanings. For right or for wrong, my take on the ‘gist’ is as follows:
      The fire has destroyed all the old-style architecture which’d hitherto sat undisturbed for centuries; and what was once evidence of the old styles and values has now become dust.
      Consequently, we’re now forboding the way in which it may be rebuilt (the old-styles being forsaken for economy and self-sustainment), as it now sits vulnerably at the mercy of modern-day methods of building (and to be rebuilt in a more modern way will be its ‘wretched fate’). But we can still retain our dreams about how much better modern architecture could be if they were to build in the old styles . .
      . . Was I anywhere near? Hot or Cold?

      Regardless: what an absolute masterpiece this poem is. I now possess something that I’ve never possessed before; the urge to try to write an unrhyming poem.

      p.s. I said above that I never hear others use the word ‘morrow’ nowadays; but I still use it regularly myself when exchanging text-messages with friends: e.g. “I’ll be arriving on the morrow”.

      Reply
      • James A Tweedie

        Monty, I’m glad you liked Mariela’s poem, but, to me, the use of an apostrophe in the word “unpester’d” is not only pointless (serves no purpose whatsoever) but comes across as pretentious and downright silly. Also, perhaps you could explain to me what “But dreams sustain soul’s visage” means?

      • Mariela Guerra

        Hello,

        Thank you so much! I appreciate your critique. It was a silly little poem, all my writing is. I can understand why I might seem “pretentious”, I insist on sounding antiquated when, after all, I am living in the 21st century haha. Yes, I admit it: I am rather pretentious—just me playing pretend I guess, pretending to be a Romantic poet haha.

        What I intended to say, which you got close in grasping, (either way all interpretations readers make of poems are valid) but my intention was to describe the destruction of antiquity (obviously), and as modernity is built on antiquity—the foundation of the present is the past—then naturally the present will topple. But, even so, in dreams and memory it lives on. In the intangible realm it is eternal, if not anymore in the tangible.

        Thank you for reading and commenting on my poem. I appreciate every word. Have a wonderful day!

  2. Michael

    Our Lady

    She was famous
    and beautiful…
    very rich,
    and very old.
    She fell in flames
    this Holy Week.
    She’d outlived
    all her loves,
    and as her soul
    slipped away,
    her heirs
    removed
    her treasures.

    Reply
  3. Bragsi

    Notre-Dame ooh la la

    Roof of trees is up in smoke
    Deforestation no more a joke
    French billionaires donate
    -such generous folk
    Singing Notre-Dame ooh la la

    Christ’s thorns survive the con
    Crashing in comes young Macron
    Yellow vests still smell the pong
    Singing Notre-Dame ooh la la

    Priceless art into the Louvre
    Catholics Protestants all approve
    5 Billion Euros to repair a roof
    Singing Notre-Dame ooh la la

    France comes together to repair its sin
    A distraction from the world we’re in
    Hunchback-elite goes into over spin
    Singing Notre-Dame ooh la la

    Remember forests die when hacked n sawn
    Gargoyles look down as evil yawns
    For the super-rich its just philanthropy porn
    Singing Notre-Dame ooh la la

    Cut the past impossible
    When power burns so canonical
    Unless we toss the tossable
    Singing Notre-Dame ooh la la

    Rose Specsavers in leadened blaze
    Medievil organ erect with praise
    When will we see through this smokey bourgeois haze?
    Singing Notre-Dame ooh la la…

    Reply
    • James A. Tweedie

      Bragsi, The irony inherent in your comment is palpable, i.e. using a creative human form (poetry) to mock another creative human form (architecture/art). When the skill, knowledge, and sublime beauty inherent in the one is set alongside the vacuous hubris inherent in the other the effect is hilarious–although probably not in the way you intended.

      Reply
      • Monty

        My Comment below this refers to Mr Tweedie’s initial Comment: not the one directly above this.

      • Bragsi

        James thank you for taking the time to reply. Maybe you didn’t enjoy my mischievous dig at the way some people use this tragic event to better themselves and that’s OK. However attempting insult someone you have no knowledge of is not clever and says more about you than me.

    • Monty

      Take no notice, Bragsi. If there’s one thing guaranteed to fly above the heads of those on the other side of the pond . . it’s sarcasm!

      Seemingly, it wasn’t obvious to the above Commenter: but it was blidingly obvious to me that you intently made no attempt to put your words into a fully-rhyming, disciplined poem . . . but your message was clear, pertinent; vital and undeniably true.

      The sarcasm in lines such as: “such generous folk”; “5 Billion euros . . “; “philanthropy-porn” was such a welcome dose of reality as to how such a tragedy will now be inexorably hijacked by the self-servers.

      If I may attempt to answer your question of: “When will we see through this smokey bourgeois haze?” . . Some of us have done so . . Some of us have always done so . . Some of us have the potential to do so . . Some will never see through it all the time they’ve got a hole in their arse.

      For the latter: They’ll never even be able to spell the word ‘sarcasm’ . . let alone see it.

      Reply
  4. Monty

    You won’t have seen it, Mr Tweedie: but I recently wrote on these pages (ostensibly in the form of a reply to another) about the sheer stupidity of telling a lie in print; for the obvious reason that it’s there for all to see. And here, it will be seen that you’ve committed that very act; ‘cos anyone reading your Comment above can see – after reading it in its entirety – that the first 7 words are completely false and disingenuous.

    It can be inferred from your remarks on certain aspects of the poem that you don’t think much of it as a whole; in which case, why did you open your Comment with: “Monty, I’m glad you liked the poem”? Those words would only have looked in-place if you’d thereafter gone on to write positively of the poem. But, given your evedent disaffection for it . . if written truthfully, your words would’ve read something like “Monty, I fail to see why you rated this poem so highly”. See? A lie . . in print.

    Further – although it can’t be considered as yet another patent lie – it can be considered disingenuous of you to ask me to “explain” a certain line in the poem; for the simple reason that if you REALLY wanted an explanation, you would surely have asked the author . . not me! Why ever would one ask (what is only the opinion of) another reader . . when they could get it from the horse’s mouth? Hence the disingenuousness: you didn’t really care for an explanation, it was just a surreptitious attempt to degenerate either the poem or my appraisal of it . . or both.

    Before continuing, I should make it clear that for several reasons (the author’s name; the fire being in France) I’ve assumed from the outset that these are the words of one for whom English is not their native tongue; and I thus made allowances for that. I assumed that this may be the reason for the superfluous apostrophe in ‘unpester’d’ . . but, regardless: I already pointed out in my initial Comment that said apostrophe was “unrequired”; and now you’ve simply repeated what I’ve already said. Which means that your remarks about the apostrophe being pointless . . were pointless. Further, if it so transpired that the author DIDN’T possess a native-english tongue; then a misplaced apostrophe can hardly be described as “pretentious and downright silly”. How rash and inconsiderate of you. Especially in view of the inclination of so many from your side of the pond to thoughtlessly and aimlessly litter (deface, even) their poetry-attempts with a ridiculous abundance of patently-unrequired Commas . . seemingly unaware of the existence of a semi-colon.

    In my continued defence of the above piece, I’d venture that many who contribute regularly to these pages will never (could never) write a poem with such a complete command of grammar; with such a rich use of language; with such fully-intended ambiguity.

    p.s. Like I said above: if you GENUINELY wanna know the unequivocal meaning of the line: “But dreams sustain life’s visage” . . you must ask no one but the author. But, given that you’ve (misdirectedly) chosen to ask me; I’ll have a tentative stab at it . . . The outward images (the visage) of what the soul sees (the negativity in the world) are kept in check/made tolerable by our dreams of better things/a better world.

    p.s.s. After you chose to use the word “pointless” in your Comment, you followed it (in brackets) with a definition of that word: “serves no purpose whatsover”. The english-speaking world is indebted to you for explaining the meaning of the word ‘pointless’.

    Reply
    • James A. Tweedie

      Monty, Thank you for your reply. I had no idea I said (or even implied) all of which you have creatively extrapolated from my comment! As for accusing me of being a liar, is it a lie to affirm someone’s appreciation for another person’s poem? How is it a lie for me to restate something you had said yourself? How is it a lie to ask you to offer an opinion regarding a poem you have just extensively reviewed? (If I had been interested in the author’s interpretation I would have directed the question to her). Aside from my reference to the extraneous apostrophe and the question concerning the meaning of the poem’s penultimate line I do not believe I expressed any opinion on whether I enjoyed or appreciated or affirmed the content or quality of the poem or not. All I did was affirm your comment, add a comment unrelated to you, and, out of mere curiosity, ask you a simple, innocuous question. If this is how you respond to something as banal as this, I can only wonder at how you might respond to a comment that actually did direct criticism in your direction.

      If you still have any doubts, let me kindly reassure you that I harbor no ill will towards you or towards any of the poets whose poetry appears on this site. If you wish, I will be happy to refrain from entering into any future interactions with you in the future. Let me know.

      Reply
    • Mariela Guerra

      Although I am flattered to hear your compliments, I believe James A. Tweedie is entitled to his opinion, and can say whatever he likes.

      Concerning my use of the apostrophe, I did not use it because I am not fluent in English and don’t know any better (I can understand my name sounds foreign and can lead one to suppose I am not a native speaker—in actuality, I am bilingual, so you are not entirely wrong), anyway, I used the apostrophe to stay true to the classic ways, as before it was necessary to mark when, for example, the “-ed” terminations would lose the extra syllable in order to maintain the strict number of syllables per line. Which is why I wrote “’pon” instead of “upon”, “fore’er” instead of forever. If I had kept the word in tact I would have lost the rhythm, the strict format of the poem, the very song of the poem. Unpestered, though it is written with the “-ed” termination, is silent, is not pronounced with the extra syllable, so yes I can see in that specific case the apostrophe was unneeded. Correct me if I am wrong, but I think I read somewhere, in old English, that words ending in “-ed”, like in unpestered, were pronounced “unpesteréd”—the “e” was not silent; but then Shakespeare was the first to drop the extra syllable by adding the apostrophe. Eventually, the apostrophe wasn’t even needed, and everyone pronounced it with the silent “e”. But poets, at least before the 20th century, retained the use of the apostrophe—at least that is what I have observed, when reading Blake, Shelley, and all those geniuses. That is why I choose to imitate them; their style rubbed off on me undoubtedly.

      To clarify, the last two lines, when I wrote “soul’s visage”, I meant the essence of antiquity, virtue, it being a spirit, a soul, lives on forever in dreams, though physically it is no longer. I wanted to exalt the intangible, the ethereal, because, in my personal philosophy, the intangible is superior to the tangible.

      Reply
      • James A. Tweedie

        Mariela, I appreciate your response to my comment to Monty. Although I was critical of the apostrophe, I did, in fact, appreciate your poem very much, even as I appreciated the three poems in the original post. As Notre Dame burned I also attempted to capture my feelings in verse, but soon gave it up for failing to find any words at all. That you and others were able to effectively put your feelings into words is to your credit, as was your willingness to share your thoughts and feelings with us here at SCP. I have visited Notre Dame, Paris, on four separate occasions. I have prayed and worshiped there. I have attended concerts there and I have been a student of its art and architecture since I was in my teens. I am much relieved to hear that the damage has been primarily to the roof and vaulting. My greatest concern was for the glass which is, of course, impossible to replace. Fortunately, most of the glass appears to have been saved. As for the inevitable restoration, I am grateful for anyone or any corporation who contributes towards its reconstruction, whether or not one chooses to label the gift as “philanthropy porn.”

      • Monty

        . . and it’s superior because of its very intangibility.

  5. Jennifer Mcdonell

    what a dreadful thing why would they do such a thing its terriffing tragety i have ever heard of. and it just breaks my heart to see those people watching the dreadful flames go about and now they want to rebuild it.. what if it burns down again?? are they going to rebuild it again and again……

    Reply
  6. Christina

    I have no words to adequately express my responses to the three poems originally written above on the fire at Notre Dame de Paris. The fact that I find them to be amoung the very best poems that I have ever read, either on this site or elsewhere, must speak for the superlatives I grope for.

    T. M. Morre’s flawless poem (and by what inspiration could it have been written in so short a time?) brought tears to my eyes as I meditated on the lost ages of faith, the ‘ugly, bullying’ smoke, a metaphor for all that is evil in these present times – its acceptance forced upon society, choking all opposition and corrupting all innocence. Thank you T. M. for this poem, so beautiful and yet so terrifying in its perception.

    And after this, how well-placed is your glorious piece, Margaret! You reminds me that Mary ‘…dominates all that here decays’. The apocalyptic vision of your opening lines remind me that she shall crush the serpent’s head. This poem is a prayer of praise that I shall copy and keep at hand.

    Meanwhile the fight continues here below, and, Joe, how terse and masterly a reminder you give here of what T. M. so aptly describes as light-obscuring smoke. I have only just heard of the spate of burnings and desecrations in Catholic churches this Lent. I visited Notre Dame de Paris twice in the distant past, while walking on the annual pilgrimage between there and Notre Dame de Chartres. This dreadful fire and these poems have brought back to mind the great French hymn we sang, and especially this verse (sorry no acute accent on device):

    Dites à tous ceux qui peinent
    Et souffrent sans savoir
    Combien lourde est la haine
    Et combien doux l’espoir.
    Chez nous soyez Reine
    Nous sommes à vous
    Regnez en Souveraine,
    Chez nous, chez nous,
    Soyez la Madone
    Qu’on prie à genoux
    Qui sourit et pardonne
    Chez nous, chez nous.

    Reply
    • Monty

      That’s the first time I’ve ever heard one use the words “I meditated on” to describe their absorption of a certain aspect of a poem. What an intense exemplification that is of the power of poetry.

      Reply
  7. T. M. Moore

    Pray for a reviving of true and beautiful faith, Christina, that will rise like a Phoenix from the ashes and rubble of contemporary Christianity.

    Reply
  8. Monty

    Nah, it don’t need to come to that. It’s a spat, that’s all; it ain’t worthy of any future ‘speech-embargo’.

    What’s more, in your last Comment, you made the spat sound worse than it actually is. I never “accused you of being a liar” . . I accused you of telling a lie. There’s a vast difference. In my eyes: a ‘liar’ is one who wantonly and consistently tells lies. I think it’s safe to assume that you’re no such thing; which is why there was no mention of the word ‘liar’ in my above Comment . . only in yours!

    I implore you to read said Comment again: you may then find that when I claimed you’d told a lie . . that was in reference ONLY to your opening words: “Monty, I’m glad you liked the poem”. You’ve wrongly interpreted my words as meaning that your entire Comment was a lie . . read them again. I found the rest of your Comment to be a noble and tactful response to my accusation . . but that opening line? As soon as I’d first read the entire Comment, and its nature . . I immediately decided that the opening line was false (a lie): and I simply told you so. That’s all! I might be right: I might be wrong . . that’s just how I saw it. If I’m wrong: so be it. You can have a snigger to yourself content in the knowledge that you were right all along.

    Reply
  9. Dave Whippman

    “As Paris Burns” is a cleverly understated poem that hints at an awful lot in a few words.

    Reply
  10. Claude I. S. Weber

    The sonnet is a nice place to quickly showcase an author’s language. Mr. Moore demonstrates the talented poet at work in his remarkable rhyme scheme, in his synonyms, in his metaphors, as in “bullying billows”, and in his word placements, as in “that neither wars nor revolution could…bring down.” The diction is reminiscent of E. B. Browning in its simplicity and purity. Though I prefer Mr. Moore’s sonnet, of the two published here, both argue against my total embrace, Mr. Moore for his discounting of what actually occurred, “No one prays”, and Ms. Coates’ utilization of feminine rhymes in the sestet. What I admire about Ms. Coates’ language is its latinate qualities, its magnificent theme, worthy of comparison to the sonnets of Mr. MacKenzie, and its handling of words, like “superlative”. Both Ms. Coates and Mr. MacKenzie strive to bring a touch of mystic transcendence, sadly absent from English literature, to New Millennial writing.

    Reply
  11. Rucléaire D' Webs

    Though my poem may not be as good as those of Mr. Moore and Ms. Coates, it is another take on the event, written the day after the fire.

    The Notre Dame Blaze

    With over fifty acres of wood in its structure’s hull,
    the Notre Dame Cathedral in Paree burned wi—ld—ly…
    on Monday after the Palm Sunday after six o’clock,
    the roof in rubble, spi-re fa//en, mished-mashed ashes clogged.
    Though Kenneth Clark did not know what ci-vil-i-za-tion was,
    still he thought he could recognize it standing on the Seine.
    If he were now alive and standing there, what would he think?
    While looking at the cinders on the square, would his heart sink?
    If one was waiting for an age’s sign, would this be it:
    neglect, poor fire precautions, restoration accident?

    Reply
  12. John O'Brien

    Murder of the Cathedral

    Hunched by flames the island multicolored glass roses of the Seine
    Back will be Notre-Dame, vowed Macron and a billion euros
    Pledged by the rich and poor who love the flying buttresses,
    The gargolyes, the steeple unlike the still-standing
    Colorful onion tops of Kremlin churches whose solons put different
    Flames into American polling places and still want to
    While the U.S. burns and Trump repeats ad nauseam “no puppet”

    Civilization, culture, religion, nationality, rationality, art, architecture
    Converge at kilometer zero in 1160 and 2019 for French, American, African alike
    Telling the hoi polloi to look up, to transcend, semper fi,
    To defeat suicide, despair, terror, to choose life, love, altar of sacrifice
    Topped by God’s golden cross, as priestly responders save the Eucharist
    And the crown of thorns, as yet another thorn pierces
    The thinking, the spiritual, the artistic left banc or our brains

    As we fear, and fear the flames of time and degeneration of
    Cathedrals and countries, of law and order, of democracy and prosperity
    As the greedy, powerful, lustful, the avaricious and autocratic seem never
    To sleep or see the grandeur of Our Lady’s stone and wooden sanctuary
    In France or anywhere, as their vision is only a newly photographed
    Black hole that tries to suck all into the nothingness, the menacing void
    Of cathedral ruins, burning books, populace off-balance and worried
    Because powers-that-be like to keep the power, control, satisfaction
    For themselves, their gold-plated bathtub faucets, with children locked
    Behind chain-link fences at the southern border of civilized behavior

    Starry nights are still higher than even the tallest spire
    At Notre-Dame in Paris, so despair need not be proud
    As our worship site resides not so much there but up here
    In my head and in yours, as we lurch to find a god, the God,
    To pause, sit, kneel, take in the beauty of what is
    Bathed in the stained-glass colors of a reality that
    Thrust us onto a planet after we did nothing to earn it
    But extracts the tears of watching a burning cathedral
    Murder of the cathedral by lack of focus, concentration
    By electrical malfunction someone couldn’t see coming
    By time, by life, by human error, as all fades and passes away
    Including us, as we can make peace with it, see the big picture
    Of transcendence in a reality, a universe, a multiverse
    So much bigger than churches, some burning, in Paris or Pittsburgh
    ————————————

    PS–Great job T.M., Mariela.

    Reply
  13. Chris Saitta

    Just my thoughts:

    The Burning of Notre Dame

    You who have lifted up your sunburned face,
    Long-told of peasant warmth and the forest tableaux,
    Barefoot, you brought the book of hours upon dusty roads,
    Ungoverned, little flower from Jeanne to Lourdes to Lisieux.
    Our Lady, osculum pacis, the kiss of peace in wood and stone.

    Burned out to those dusty eyes,
    Now-empty look of rosework from the forest-fall of sunlight.
    Medieval prayer, earthly-dim to its rafters of oak,
    Come un-cinctured in ashen cloud of amice and alb,
    And the murine blackness of plague-like smoke.

    Birds that sit blinking at the winged fossil of intrados,
    Pipe air through your own ribbed vaults, organum pulse.
    Let the city rise in your vining voices—and hold the note.
    The great organ intones from the runs and pedal stops
    Along the turbid streets of the rue de la Cité to the empire of catacombs.

    Beside his candle, the monk in sadness knows
    All loveliness of heaven except his own.
    Our Lady, every sunset is your faded candle hour of peace, for us to know.
    Holy Father, so passes worldly glory,
    Over the roofs of Paris like fire-scorned and leaden wings.

    Reply

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