Saturday, November 28, 2015

The light from Saint-Denis

The Dionysiens of Saint-Denis are the inheritors
of a radiance in stone and glass built by Abbot Suger
to flood the Basilica of Saint Denis, giving nearby Paris
a greed for light and raising the towers of the Gothic.

The burial place of kings in Saint Denis was looted
and the bones scattered and confused in the long
years of revolution. Today the ossuary grows with
a new terror. These acolytes carry a new thyrsus.

No madness of maenads was as ravaging as this new
cult of faith with staffs of nail bombs and stabbing knives.
Diderot, Voltaire, Descartes told us of order, wit, and mind.
Franklin and Lafayette once taught us friendship of cause.

Paris arose from the sins of ninety-three, greeted
the new century with industry and later a tower of iron.
Eiffel and Edison met in that tower taller than any basilica,
as friends exchanged civilized unities of height and light.

Below schools and libraries told of man and the moral gaze.
In the Louvre the Winged Victory inspired awe of approach.
The café society of a Paris bold and modern sparkled
an address of radiant gaiety to the world then and forever.

The avenues of Paris reappear all over the modern world
in cities heady with freedom and song, with sporting contests
and the bite of cartoons. We dance and cavort unchained,
we are Parisians of mind and we revere towers of light.

Virginia Walker
Shelter Island, NY
Donated to Secours Cathalique 

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