Suger and the Golden Eagle


What were you? What benighted ritual function
served you? Did you catch from slaughtered calves
the ruby of their veins, and mete its halves
between strange gods and men who begged their unction?
Would still man’s breast rekindle dark desire
should I from Eve’s lips wrest the unbit apple?
I wrought the pagan archway in my chapel,
yet still the kings of Rome repose in fire;
I can’t convert the dead. Lord knows I’ve tried.
Hell holds no ministry—on Earth, creeds fade.
You never lived, and so you never died:
no soul to burn—no tempter to derange you.
The eagle, heathens’ mark, has been remade;
you still can serve your maker. I can change you.

1Suger’s Eagle is the name of a gold liturgical vessel in the shape of an eagle which Abbot Suger made from an Ancient Egyptian urn. He also built the shape of the Roman triumphal arch into his cathedral at St-Denis, the beginning of Gothic architecture.

Daniel Galef

Daniel Galef is a writer from Montreal whose poetry has appeared in Measure Review, The Lyric, the Christian Century, the Scrivener Creative Review, New York Magazine, and the Raintown Review.

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