To me the social architecture of a cathedral outstrips its aesthetic wonders. A cathedral is a monument to a community, to a way of life, to a view of things bigger than one's own little world. It was Victor Hugo's novel, Notre Dame de Paris, that led me to understand a cathedral's power, and this one in particular. I think the high dynamic range of this photo brings out that sense of the glowing presence this building has had in Paris and in the imagination for centuries.
Notre Dame de Paris
by Gideon Burton
Great ribs of stone rise romanesque, then vault
Into the dark and airy transept's top.
Two vast and colored windows, round, will halt
And heat the light to rosy hues, not stop
The sight of heaven that two hundred years
Brought pious masons, carpenters and all
The cutting grinding laborers so near
To godly mystery, its silent pall
Uplifting with the buttressed walls of mass.
A vision, wafer thin and ruddy red,
In sweaty time to sons from fathers passed
Who saw God's finished house when they were dead.
She marks the tomb of peasants, and the times,
Part sepulcher, part temple, part sublime.
Feel free to copy, imitate, remix, or redistribute this poem as long as you give proper acknowledgment of authorship. Image: flickr - xelcise