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