“The rebel and the teacher, the vandal and the saint…”

Since the August 2011 earthquake, this previously camera-shy angel at the National Cathedral has become a minor celebrity, as well as a herald of the restoration work to come.

VIGIL

No furling earth, no incandescent wing—
You know your ruin by what your ruin is not:
No bounding vault, no lapidary gate,
No corbels raised to frame the blazing glass,
No graven arch to turn the pilgrim purse,
No choristers to round the close with verse,
No patrons’ patient faces grazed with sun,
No pedestals for patronage to come,
No babbling pandemonium of spring,
No spindling girls to bind their loves with blooms,
No censer-swirling deacon, nor his drudge
To agonize the vetch that winds the thyme,
No mourning dove to peck on wispy rhyme,
No scaffold-clambered bishop overhead,
No winch-raw backs, no oaken arms to roll
The stones to where they fit, before they fall,
No nobler you to pace the slouching wall
And squat by stumps, gnaw spalls of scaly bread,
And mutter to yourself, and to the night,
To columns crowded round you how you wait
For herald, harp, and scroll,
For pinnacles set perfectly alight,
For furling earth, for incandescent wing—


Undaunted, in the purple light we meet
As spider mites anticipate the shade
And halos haunt the vestibule. We kneel,
Unwrap our roundest rasps, and raze away
The hundred thousand afternoons you woke
And strained to brace the battlements you broke.

(For all the entries in this series, hit the “looking up” tab, or read the gargoyle FAQ.)

One thought on ““The rebel and the teacher, the vandal and the saint…”

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s