On a Young Writer

From the January 2016 Print Edition

By practice skill is got, by practice wit is won.—George TurbervilleOn being asked by a young friend of mineThe surest way to make himself an author,I said he ought to read line after lineOf dense and brilliant books; taking the “bother”To memorize their tricks and ticks, the waysMeaning may . . . . Continue Reading »

The Half-Empty Auditorium

From Web Exclusives

The following essay is adapted from Chapter 3 of “The Fortunes of Poetry in an Age of Unmaking.” Those who love literature, or at any rate have a vested interest in making sure great works of literature are taught at universities and that radical politics are not, could only find the conquest . . . . Continue Reading »

The Christmas Preface

From the December 2015 Print Edition

There, in the hay’s warmth and the steaming sty,The Word born to the frailty of fleshCracks our mortality with a weak cryAnd seals our life within his endlessness.The Word born to the frailty of flesh,He lies wrapped in the cloths of mystery,And seals our life within his endlessness,In infant . . . . Continue Reading »

Remembering Brett Foster

From First Thoughts

Sad news from last week: Wheaton College mourns the death of Professor Brett Foster, who has been a good, true friend to his students and colleagues on campus,” said Wheaton College President Dr. Philip G. Ryken. “Dr. Foster’s exceptional poems will be a lasting treasure for all who read them, . . . . Continue Reading »

What Critical Vision?

From the December 2014 Print Edition

If T. S. Eliot were our exact contemporary, he would, as a critic of literature and culture, find much of his labor in need of being done again. Or, rather, he would see it continued in the remarkable, growing achievement found in the essays of Adam Kirsch. In Kirsch’s new collection, Rocket . . . . Continue Reading »

After the Ascension

From the June/July 2013 Print Edition

Ascension Thursday: gone again. My usual panic every year Sets in as the Easter season ends; I’d hoped to reconcile everything, To feel, just once, grace tremble near, In a resurrected, fiery ring. But dry distraction settles in, And with a crow’s beak pecks my breast With hungers and regrets. . . . . Continue Reading »

Et in Arcadia Ego

From the February 2010 Print Edition

The evergreens haunt the vineyard’s margin, encircling the bare Truck-and-backhoe mangled hill from whose dry crest I stare Across the lines of planted vines, in early spring; their dry And lightening bark like chicken feet clutching at the sky. The gravel spread about their husks reflects in . . . . Continue Reading »