To Imagine Excellence

Let Us Watch Richard Wilbur:A Biographical Studyby robert bagg and mary bagguniversity of massachusetts, 392 pages, $32.95 Richard Wilbur died peacefully, surrounded by family, on October 14. Though he had a full life, he did not receive the Nobel Prize or the biography that he deserved. . . . . Continue Reading »

Here Is What I’d Like to Say to You

Brave and awkward. Everything I knew I knew I do notBut isn’t it amazing how you are with me there now thenHere is what I’d like to say to youWhat if you sat down to write a poemAll about miracles and affection, which is to say, of course, LoveSo joyous and refreshing that you gape with aweAnd . . . . Continue Reading »

The Fourth Sunday of Advent

Snow that has fallen in the night Blankets at last the sodden clay And offers such peace to our sight As if it were the eternal day. Yet shoppers, now, begin to fight Among stripped shelves, and husbands say Some stinging thing to frazzled wives Just before the first guest arrives. What blessing . . . . Continue Reading »

Fire Up a Candle

Fire up a candle for the Advent wreath. The birth is a week away. Let the deer browse peacefully on their heath, our rifles locked away. Last remnant in our Liturgy of Greek, let all sing Kyrie, Christe eléison. Let all who seek salvation, let the stray sinner come to the church whose Lord is . . . . Continue Reading »


I wonder who taught Salome to dance,To wave her arms, to drop her final veil.For all her grace, she somehow disenchants. She’s sinuous and snakelike; no romanceRuns through her lithe limbs; blood red stains each nail.I wonder who taught Salome to dance. We noble ladies glance at her askanceWhile . . . . Continue Reading »

Ember Days

September 1:  Though acorns start to fall,And equinox is still three weeks away,We lose the evanescent light of day;Despite bright mornings, night begins its sprawl.October 1: The pumpkins are for sale;Chrysanthemums grow gold or tawny rust.Towards Halloween the warm days start to fail;The . . . . Continue Reading »

Going Out

I was nervous as a child though now I’m not.I used to dream. I used to dream a lot.I don’t dream now. My dreaming days are done. So I’m sitting in the room that is my life.In the shadows are my children and my wife.At the window is a person with a gun, And he’s writing with his finger in the . . . . Continue Reading »

The Untrue Artist

“The true artist will let his wife starve, his children go barefoot, his mother drudge for his living at seventy, sooner than work at anything but his art.” —George Bernard Shaw I’ve put untapped potential on a shelfmuch like a book one someday wants to read.I’m less concerned with . . . . Continue Reading »

Jeremiah’s Lament for Josiah

Then Jeremiah chanted a lament for Josiah —2 Chronicles 35:25 Weep, oh weep! Josiah’s dead, the child-king has been killed, and Judah could go to the grave, the promise unfulfilled, And precious Zion stands condemned, Who will save Jerusalem? Josiah, the resilient king who overcame the odds, . . . . Continue Reading »