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. "Mother of God, Stone Broke Loose From the Mountain" is by the Rev. William Hart Nicholas, an iconographer based in Ranchos de Taos, N.M. His book You Will Be My Witness, with John Dear, S.J., will be published in spring 2006 by Orbis Books. 

Recently in Poem