Towers of silver and of steel

Back in 2001 for a column for The Wanderer I included this:

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


About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. Jon says:


    And five years ago today, I e-mailed the below to my friends. Kipling wrote it in 1914 at the outset of WWI. I thought it very appropriate.

    The Outlaws

    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.

  2. terry nelson says:

    Astonishing poems – thank you both.

  3. Jon says:

    PS – Sorry for the odd stanza break. It happened inexplicably when I hit “submit.”

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