Oh how quiet it is after the black night

Oh how quiet it is after the black night
When flames out of the clouds burned down your cariated teeth,
And when those lightnings,
Lancing the black boils of Harlem and the Bronx,
Spilled the remaining prisoners,
(The tens and twenties of the living)
Into the trees of Jersey,
To the green farms, to find their liberty.

How are they down, how have they fallen down
Those great strong towers of ice and steel,
And melted by what terror and what miracle?
What fires and lights tore down,
With the white anger of their sudden accusation,
Those towers of silver and of steel?

From Figures For An Apocalypse, VI – In the Ruins of New York (1947) by Thomas Merton

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6 Responses to Oh how quiet it is after the black night

  1. jane says:

    What a beautiful prophetic poem. Wonder what Merton was thinking. The photo is awesome. Thanks for remembering. God bless all the souls of 9-11-01.

    jane in memphis

  2. danphunter1 says:

    Requiescat in Pace.Amen

  3. Jon says:

    I found this poem apropos, and sent it to friends that very day.

    It concerns the Germans at the outset of World War I, but it applies all the same.

    The Outlaws
    1914
    Rudyard Kipling

    THROUGH learned and laborious years
    They set themselves to find
    Fresh terrors and undreamed-of fears
    To heap upon mankind.

    All that they drew from Heaven above
    Or digged from earth beneath,
    They laid into their treasure-trove
    And arsenals of death:

    While, for well-weighed advantage sake,
    Ruler and ruled alike
    Built up the faith they meant to break
    When the fit hour should strike.

    They traded with the careless earth,
    And good return it gave:
    They plotted by their neighbour’s hearth
    The means to make him slave.

    When all was ready to their hand
    They loosed their hidden sword,
    And utterly laid waste a land
    Their oath was pledged to guard

    Coldly they went about to raise
    To life and make more dread
    Abominations of old days,
    That men believed were dead.

    They paid the price to reach their goal
    Across a world in flame;
    But their own hate slew their own soul
    Before that victory came.

  4. Henry Edwards says:

    Jon: It concerns the Germans at the outset of World War I, but it applies all the same.

    You mean that it applies as a liturgical prophecy?

    THROUGH learned and laborious years
    They set themselves to find
    Fresh terrors and undreamed-of fears
    To heap upon mankind.

    These are the liturgical outlaws of the 1960s?

    When all was ready to their hand
    They loosed their hidden sword,
    And utterly laid waste a land
    Their oath was pledged to guard

    Laying waste to the liturgy handed down by Tradition?

  5. David says:

    The first Sunday after September 11, 2001 the opening hymn at Mass was
    All My Hope On God is Founded. The second verse was terribly relevant and
    became almost impossible to sing…I still remember it.

    “Pride of man and earthly glory,
    sword and crown betray his trust;
    what with care and toil he buildeth,
    tower and temple, fall to dust.
    But God’s power,
    hour by hour,
    is my temple and my tower.

  6. Jon says:

    Henry,

    “You mean that it applies as a liturgical prophecy?”

    Call it Kipling’s Psalm 73!