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A saint, Romain, cut off our father’s head

And nailed it on a Rouen church, they said,
For he was evil (so the saint did swear;
I would not know, I simply was not there).
For fifteen hundred years thereafter we
Are banished from all churches, the Gargouilles
Or gargoyles; made of unforgiving stone,
Condemned to squat on gutters to atone
Rerouting rain and bitter tears, denied
The Sacraments that you partake inside.

Our fate, for some great long-forgotten sin,
Is to remind all humankind, within
The holy walls, that danger lurks outside;
Our form of penance is our source of pride:
We wait throughout the centuries, below
We watch you sons of Adam come and go;
Within our One Creator’s grand design
From weather foul we guard Our Lady’s shrine:
When Christmas bells peal out to beckon you,
In holy joy we gargoyles tremble too.



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Published: Dec 24, 2012
Stephen Masty
Stephen Masty (1954-2015) was a Senior Contributor to The Imaginative Conservative. He was a journalist, a development expert, and a speechwriter for three US presidents, British royalty and heads of government in Asia, Africa and the Caribbean. He spent most of his adulthood working in South Asia including Afghanistan, and he was a writer, poet and artist in Kathmandu.
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