Anaïs Nin’s Artistic Associations: Daisy Aldan (a poem)

Here is an excerpt from Collected Poems of Daisy Aldan. The following 1964 poem marked the beginning of Aldan’s dramatic ascent into 20th century avant-garde poetry and the beginning of a spiritual voyage that would continue for the rest of her life.


The Destruction of Cathedrals

   I’m weary of visiting Cathedrals.
Let me make a pilgrimage to the trembling cathedral
 of my own spirit

   For there like France at war, I find 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 to 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 per viam, attendete et videte

   Everywhere they are licking the lead plates
Disclosing the bare frame “forest” across interlacing

   Like a prodigious skeleton of fire
Leaving an immense void — twisted iron, indented
 clock wheels, broken muted bells.

   Foolish imposter 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.

–Daisy Aldan, all rights reserved

Join the Conversation


  1. When Destruction of Cathedrals was first published and the printed version arrived, Daisy came at once to find me,
    totally sullen and unhinged. The original publication had omitted the first and most important lines of her
    title poem,

    ” I’m weary of visiting Cathedrals.
    Let me make a pilgrimage to the trembling cathedral of my own spirit”

    It was not to be found. I was horrified for her, as she considered this to be her most important publication.
    It could not be fixed. She wrote, in her chicken scratch hand writing in every one of those editions, the first
    lines of that poem. The lines went across the page, one short line, the next long. Across the open pages
    one found the poem and a wonderful print of Franz Kline. This book is still as impressive today as it was
    then. In mine, in red ink are the first words of her poem.

    C Goldman

  2. Daisy Alden was a great artist and teacher. I think of her often.
    Thank you for the touching story about her publication. She taught me to expect hardships as an artist – and she was right – about that and many other things.

    I remember her teaching me about words – how one like “mudlucious” was as important as a painting.

    she is missed.

  3. Daisy Aldan was my creative writing teacher in the High School of Art & Design. Thanks to her I had the confidence and the persistence to build a writing career. Thank you Ms. Aldan.

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