John Ormond

(Dunvant, near Swansea)

The Cathedral Builders - Poem by John Ormond

They climbed on sketchy ladders towards God,
with winch and pulley hoisted hewn rock into heaven,
inhabited the sky with hammers,
defied gravity,
deified stone,
took up God's house to meet him,
and came down to their suppers
and small beer,
every night slept, lay with their smelly wives,
quarrelled and cuffed the children,
lied, spat, sang, were happy, or unhappy,
and every day took to the ladders again,
impeded the rights of way of another summer's swallows,
grew greyer, shakier,
became less inclined to fix a neighbour's roof of a fine evening,
saw naves sprout arches, clerestories soar,
cursed the loud fancy glaziers for their luck,
somehow escaped the plague,
got rheumatism,
decided it was time to give it up,
to leave the spire to others,
stood in the crowd, well back from the vestments at the consecration,
envied the fat bishop his warm boots,
cocked a squint eye aloft,
and said, 'I bloody did that.'

Topic(s) of this poem: religion


Comments about The Cathedral Builders by John Ormond

  • (4/16/2019 5:24:00 AM)

    Seeing the flames engulf Notre dame, I've been re-reading this beautiful poem with tears stinging my eyes. (Report)Reply

    1 person liked.
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  • (4/15/2019 2:53:00 PM)

    I'm reading this poem on the eve of the fire at Notre Dame de Paris as the immaculate work of thousands of cathedral builders whose names we don’t know, is reduced to ash. In the face of this loss for humanity, I send my thanks to them and the poet for articulating my appreciation beautifully. (Report)Reply

    3 person liked.
    1 person did not like.
  • (4/15/2019 2:48:00 PM)

    I'm reading this poem on the eve of the fire at Notre Dame de Paris as the immaculate work of thousands of cathedral builders whose names we don’t know is being reduced to ash. In the face of this loss for humanity, I send my thanks to them and the poet for articulating my appreciation beautifully. (Report)Reply

    0 person liked.
    1 person did not like.
  • Gajanan Mishra (10/16/2014 8:52:00 AM)

    good one, thanks, go on writing. (Report)Reply

    1 person liked.
    1 person did not like.
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Poem Submitted: Thursday, October 16, 2014

Poem Edited: Thursday, October 16, 2014


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