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  • Writer's pictureDr. Anthony Lilles

Notre Dame Burning - by Scott Eagan


She is a vast symphony in stone – Victor Hugo


NOTRE – DAME BURNING

- Holy Week Tuesday - Allegro con brio -

Somewhere within the ‘forest’

in the wooden heart of that complex community

of primal oak beams, interweaving rafters,

a renovating spark spawned a flame – and hungry to destroy

tongues and tails of demons licked the branches

until the forest was burning with a violent, evil blaze

spreading is wiles throughout the woods

toppling the mighty spire – its tall head high above the canopy

while the gargoyles, stone faced, grimaced unwaveringly.

In the bosom of the Île de la Cité, having survived Reformation and Revolution

and modern unbelief, standing steadfast, the citizens

rushed to the rescue – water, prayer, hymns – and a human chain

of saving hands in that crucible of Gothic alchemy.

A whirlwind of crackling notes, a cacophony of roaring incense.


- Holy Saturday - Allegreto -

Within the ashes of wreckage

smoke stained walls and buried pews

ravaged roof, damaged stained glass windows,

the teary cry of a city, of the world – and a smokey silence

tomb-like, not even the curious tourist’s chatter,

poor stilled heart wounded in a Passion of fire and water.

Scarred body wrapped in a shroud of love

awaiting the touch of God and man, encased in stone

the crown of thorns removed in the age old battle against beauty

she is laid to rest, the poignant price of neglect.

Music, paused in a chiseled silence, holds a hidden note -

hope remains in the place of Golgatha.


- Easter Sunday – Allegro con spiritu -

Still standing, the luminous cross

surmounting a pietá. Mother and Son a midst

twisted and blackened pipes, timbers – the forest fallen in ruin

a tomb with a stone rolled across the sanctuary.

Yet, a strange beat begins in resurrection

with the centuries of faith, of craftsmanship and artistry

a response to the Conductor’s baton, phoenix-like the promise

rising again from death, the notes in recapitulation of its creation.

A heart burning in the cinders of Notre Dame de Paris -

the forest will grow back, the music will return

and with it, the strength to begin again.


Scott Eagan April 23, 2019

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