Support First Things by turning your adblocker off or by making a  donation. Thanks!

At first it’s like a painted teacup
inverted, this gold-scalloped dome
containing an apotheosis
of saints triumphant heading home

to God”a Beatific Vision
made relevant to mortal eyes
Then we discover in each cornice
angels, grotesque in shape and size,

in imminent danger of descending
onto our heads, their Sunday-best
huge wings precariously suspended,
hoping the tourists are impressed.

Faith is not like this, needs no laser
sculpture, no cheat-the-eye designs.
Baroque device is insufficient
to baffle unbelieving minds.

Faith was a gift that died with Gothic.
Only the rich medieval heart
(dazzled by love and drunk with logic)
could train the wild stone rose of Chartres.