“How are they down, how have they fallen down…”

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:

    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.

    ~ Rudyard Kipling

  2. Maureen says:

    The sky was silent, and its blue
    Too clear to bear.
    The beauty went unnoticed, until pain
    Forced us to care.
    That is how peace is — boring, bare,
    And all too rare.

  3. Paul Haley says:

    Dear God, be with us as we remember the brave souls who gave their lives in response to the 9/11 attacks as they performed the greatest sacrifice any human can give:

    “No greater love hath any man than he who gaveth up his life for his friend.”

    Remember, also, those souls whose lives were taken from them by the terrorist madmen who to this day wreak havoc upon the earth. May those innocent souls rest in peace, Amen.

  4. David Andrew says:

    They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
    Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
    At the going down of the sun and in the morning
    We will remember them.

    from For the Fallen by Laurence Binyon

    Although this is typically sung on Remembrance Day for the fallen members of the military in the UK, I find this text appropriate for the memory of those who were lost on Sept. 11, for the many men and women “first responders” who died that day, as well as those in the military who have given their lives protecting our freedoms.

  5. Howard says:

    To you, O Theotokos, we sinners now flee. In repentance we bow down before you, saying: “O Sovereign Lady, help us: have compassion on us, make haste to help, for we perish in the multitude of our sins Turn us not empty away, for we have you as our only hope.

    Glory. . . both now and ever …

    Never, O Theotokos, will we, unworthy, cease to proclaim your powers: for if you did not hasten to our aid, making intercession, who would have delivered us from our manifold adversities? Who would have preserved us free to this day? We will not forsake you, O Lady, for you save your servants from all malicious foes.”

    — The Order for the Lesser Sanctification of the Water (http://www.goarch.org/en/Chapel/liturgical_texts/lesser_water.asp)

  6. John Womack says:

    Eternal rest grant unto them, O Lord.
    And let perpetual light shine upon them.
    May their souls, and the souls of all the faithful departed, rest in peace.

  7. pat says:

    There is a beautiful poem called “Meet me in the Stairwell” that follows this photo, which was part of a photo essay somebody sent me. It’s too long to post on somebody else’s blog, but it’s an easy google.

  8. CK says:

    Yes,Pat, someone just emailed me the “Meet me in the stairwell”


    You say you will never forget where you were when
    you heard the news On September 11, 2001.
    Neither will I.

    I was on the 110th floor in a smoke filled room
    with a man who called his wife to say ‘Good-Bye.’ I
    held his fingers steady as he dialed. I gave him the
    peace to say, ‘Honey, I am not going to make it, but it
    is OK..I am ready to go.’

    I was with his wife when he called as she fed
    breakfast to their children. I held her up as she
    tried to understand his words and as she realized
    he wasn’t coming home that night.

    I was in the stairwell of the 23rd floor when a
    woman cried out to Me for help. ‘I have been
    knocking on the door of your heart for 50 years!’ I said.
    ‘Of course I will show you the way home – only
    believe in Me now.’

    I was at the base of the building with the Priest
    ministering to the injured and devastated souls.
    I took him home to tend to his Flock in Heaven. He
    heard my voice and answered.

    I was on all four of those planes, in every seat,
    with every prayer. I was with the crew as they
    were overtaken. I was in the very hearts of the
    believers there, comforting and assuring them that their
    faith has saved them.

    I was in Texas , Virginia , California , Michigan , Afghanistan .
    I was standing next to you when you heard the terrible news.
    Did you sense Me?

    I want you to know that I saw every face. I knew
    every name – though not all know Me. Some met Me
    for the first time on the 86th floor.

    Some sought Me with their last breath.
    Some couldn’t hear Me calling to them through the
    smoke and flames; ‘Come to Me… this way… take
    my hand.’ Some chose, for the final time, to ignore Me.
    But, I was there.

    I did not place you in the Tower that day. You
    may not know why, but I do. However, if you were
    there in that explosive moment in time, would you have
    reached for Me?

    Sept. 11, 2001, was not the end of the journey
    for you. But someday your journey will end. And I
    will be there for you as well. Seek Me now while I may
    be found. Then, at any moment, you know you are
    ‘ready to go.’

    I will be in the stairwell of your final moments.


  9. Maureen says:

    The late John Ford’s poem “110 Floors”:

  10. PMcGrath says:

    Photograph from September 11
    by Wislawa Szymborska
    (Winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature, 1996)

    They jumped from the burning floors
    one, two, a few more,
    higher, lower.

    The photograph halted them in life,
    and now keeps them
    above the earth toward the earth.

    Each is still complete,
    with a particular face
    and blood well-hidden.

    There’s enough time
    for hair to come loose,
    for keys and coins
    to fall from pockets.

    They’re still within the air’s reach
    within the compass of places
    that have just now opened.

    I can do only two things for them
    describe this flight
    and not add a last line.

    (tr. Cavanagh and Baranczak)

  11. Louis E. says:

    So do we restore what was destroyed…or do we by our aquiescence in the destruction dishonor,while claiming to honor,all who were killed to accomplish it?


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