The National Catholic Review
Nebuchadnezzar stared while the prophet blazed.
A stone not cut, stormed Daniel, by any human hand,
However self-righteous or self-deluded. Understand:
It is the Lord has quarried here.
The king’s eyes glazed,

Because all he knew was earthly power: kings who razed
Entire citiesdogs, women, babies, mules, the very land,
Kings whose subjects, high & low, did their each command.
A stone not quarried by any hand but God’s. Amazed,

The king fell back before the prophet’s words. A stone
That would smash each self-important, self-made idol,
Whether built of gold or steel or any other thing their throne
Was made of. Yes, whatever insane, grand mal, suicidal
Impulse kings could conjure up. A stone shaped by God alone.
Womb-warm, lamb-gentle, world-wielding, tidal.

Paul Mariani is University Professor of English at Boston College and the former poetry editor of America. His most recent book is Death & Transfigurations: Poems, designed and with engravings by Barry Moses.

Recently in Poem