Support First Things by turning your adblocker off or by making a  donation. Thanks!

Down in the soul’s wine cellars
The casks of virtue brood.
They’re aging through the centuries,
Like deep Alaskan crude.

The casks of sin, however,
Are daily tapped and flow,
Filling carafes, beakers, and jugs,
Giving each face a glow.

It’s quite a ways below ground,
The soul’s wine cellars dwell.
The casks of sin and virtue stand
So close, it’s hard to tell

Which, when you tap its fullness,
Comes spurting an arcing stream
Into a thimble or a cup,
Into this world or a dream.

But when he takes a sip,
God, the sommelier,
Knows at once the vintage broached
And tosses it away.

”Mark Jarman
May 2008

Dear Reader,

Your charitable support for First Things is urgently needed before July 1.

First Things is a proudly reader-supported enterprise. The gifts of readers like you— often of $50, $100, or $250—make articles like the one you just read possible.

This Spring Campaign—one of our two annual reader giving drives—comes at a pivotal season for America and the church. With your support, many more people will turn to First Things for thoughtful religious perspectives on pressing issues of politics, culture, and public life.

All thanks to you. Will you answer the call?

Make My Gift