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 and Lightship, one hears echoes from the deep well of shared sympathies between the late poet-critic and his successor, along with whispers of the fragmentary, kabbalistic style of Walter Benjamin, that testify to the ambiguous direction in which Kirsch drives Eliot’s legacy in these nineteen essays.Eliot’s endeavor was to reveal the banal contradiction in which most of us live, unable either to face the depravity of our fallen condition or to accept the religious yearning that shapes our wills. For Eliot, the modern problem is that the pretenses of the natural sciences cow us until we feel “convinced of too little” and fear that we may be nothing more than the incidental products of material causes. In reaction, we conjure up a range of weakly defined and largely insincere beliefs to hide this fear from ourselves. 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 . . . . 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 »