“Our Lady of Pompeii”
We walked along the maze of stone-laid streets
Past the brothels, taverns, and domiciles,
Past the stadiums of athletes’ feats,
And past the baths of water that defiles.
We walked towards courts with regal garden yards,
Past prisons and houses of ill-repute,
Past schools and modest hospital wards,
And past lanes where children play in pursuit.
Then, earth and heaven thundered smoke and fire.
Theaters, temples, senate ancient chambers,
Libraries – all were vacant of desire
In amber glow of sunset’s last cinders.
Whole families had been turned into stone;
The young and old in death remained alone.
Centuries preserve the flesh and bone
Of those who died without even a moan.
Here, we lie, past phantoms made of ash,
Where the Angel of Death passed us in a flash,
Without the Blood of Lambs, as at the Pasch,
Without the Precious Blood borne of the lash.
Thus, we pray, “Our Lady of Pompeii,
Save us from the shadow of the gray.”