Epochal Bells

Epochal Bells
I
In synagogues of cedar hills
weathered shepherds prayed
in parabled fields the psalmists
sang and a sturdy epoch made
forming a faith as firm as the staves
they gripped as the sentinels
of flocks whose bellwethers tinked
a Bethlehem of bells.

II
Crouched on towers, Romanesque
gargoyles leered in stone,
mocking redemptive requiems
with death's processional drone
while sudden scythe and hooded cloak,
quick to plagues and knells,
stalked the campaniles' gloom
of medieval bells.

III
Occasion now usurps grace,
the caduceus replaces staves:
clinking cymbals hide in hymns
dry voices lift in naves
as comforts cushion brutish fears,
pulpits flail at bagatelles,
and mundane, tintinnabulary tales
flap from the tongues of bells.






[Original version published in the Trinity Review]

by William F Dougherty

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