Poem | The Old Wall

Arch after arch set in the brick,
Rosettes along them, pebble-thick;

Draped, helmed, armed figures, scribes with scrolls,
And eagles in their leafy holes:

An immobility so high
And wide is like a demon sky—

And what am I—what’s anyone?—
Beneath the barricaded sun?

My teacher, say, who banked her blood,
Fearing the worst (it did no good),

Who (so it goes) could not forget
What she was made of, and how set

Against this by a firing squad?
What is there on our side but God,

Who only incidentally made stone,
But lived and bled for you and me alone?

Published in the December 4, 2015 issue: 

Sarah Ruden has published several books, including, most recently, The Face of Water: A Translator on Beauty and Meaning in the Bible and a new translation of Augustine’s Confessions.

Also by this author
Poem | In a Palace

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