The Gargoyles

Wandering past an old cathedral wall
Where gargoyles with their gothic faces glared 
At me, or earth, or nothing real at all;
Where griffins glowered with their grey teeth bared
And imps contorted in a frozen masque
As ogres thrust their wild tongues to the sky,
I paused beneath one hellion jowl to ask,
Do they sin, these sentinels on high?

Sculpted spirits strained with gyre and thrust,
Distending eyes and clawing in assault;
Restive stills of anger, woe, or lust,
Their stone heads plunged toward the airy vault,
They sprang like chilblains from these spires of grace
To meet the outer darkness with their dark—
Like caveats to consecrated space,
Like thugs to match the demons, bark for bark.

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