Archive for May, 2019

In October of 2001 I posted to my WTC Journal website Daisy Aldan’s Destruction of Cathedrals which was written shortly after WW2 and thus reflects upon that time of destruction. This poem of hers eerily seemed to reflect upon the fall of the Twin Towers. In 2019 I found, that once again, it could have been written after Notre Dame burned.

Here is what I originally wrote about the poem in 2001: We might feel that we are going through a unique time in our history. That our experience is like no other. Yet we are part of the human condition and part of its unending parade of wars. These … literary works show us that at the heart of all disasters, the human emotions rise up the same, no matter what time or place.

The  Destruction of Cathedrals  – Daisy Aldan

For there, like France at war, I found myself,

Not standing forth in pride and glory, but on my knees in mourning, amid ruins.

Amid the noise of falling glass and plaster.

Statues, pinnacles, bell turrets, counterforts; crockets, birds, pillars and arches,

All all in ruins incalcinated.

Cross, candlesticks, reliquaries, masonry, swept away like wisps of straw.

The smiling angel has only half a face,

The Chimera which climbs t meet her has been struck by a bullet in her back,

The hands of the caryatid, amputated,

Solomon’s cloak is cracked the Queen of Sheba has lost her robe and crown.

The flames have scaled the steeples spread over the roofs

O vos omnes qui transites perviam, attendete et vedete

Everywhere they are licking the lead plates

Disclosing the bare frame forest across interlacing balconies

Like a prodigious skeleton of fire

Leaving an immense void twisted iron, indented clock wheels, broken muted bells,

Foolish impostor doors which did not open

Hang in high galleries. Perforated the great roses intense blues, purples,

Reds so warm and vigorous which burnished

The rays of the midday sun. The gargoyles drip heavy tears. I hear the bells falling.

Wind is raging among the naves and corpses.

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Notre Dame Cathedral, is not just a landmark or a Christian symbol but a building that is loved by people all over the world. My heart went out to the people crying the night it burned. Made me remember how I cried when the Twin Towers at Manhattan’s World Trade Center fell. People didn’t understand, at that time, that one can have an emotional attachment to a building! I think after this fire the world realizes that some buildings are not just wood, stone and steel. They are entities with living histories, important to those who lived near, worked or walked through them.

I wrote this poem shortly after the towers fell. As I watched the news about Notre Dame I recalled this poem. Upon rereading it, shivers ran through me. We all remember the iconic piece of the Tower’s façade that landed upright in the Pile. I saw that it resembled the front stonework of Gothic cathedral architecture and hence was the inspiration for this poem:

When Spires Fall
11/12/2001

When spires fall
The Cathedral calls
To the darkening sky
To which the dove does fly.
Past the open spaces
The river now races.
Creating pain in the heart,
Making us cry.

In a heap of metal
Scattered like petals
All twisted and torn
From earth you were shorn.
Your sisters are crying,
The wounded are dying.
From mothers and fathers
No children born.

When spires fall
The Cathedral calls
To the darkening sky
To which the dove does fly.
The rubble is burning
Sad hearts are yearning
Searching for the missing
Who didn’t die.

The world has been darkened
Sad memories harken.
For the spires are shattered
Their ashes now scattered.
A dream has been broken.
No words can be spoken
For the soul of a nation
So violently battered.

When spires fall
The Cathedral calls
To the darkening sky
To which the dove does fly.
We continue our searches
In mosques, synagogues and churches.
Where only God can now
Lift us high.