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

The Integrity of Poetry

Last year marked the thirtieth anniversary of Dana Gioia’s Can Poetry Matter?, a follow-up to his famous 1991 article in The Atlantic. The article and book caused quite a stir. Gioia observed that poetry was no longer a part of intellectual life in America. It was not published in . . . . Continue Reading »

Ignatius to the Romans

Be silent. Hush. Take up the sound of oozelike oil from olives that the presses bruise.Or be the sound of fresh baked loaves, the soundof seeds beneath the stony, sun-packed ground.I’ll be the noise of wheat beneath the stone,or, caught jammed in the leopard’s throat, a bonerattling jagged, . . . . Continue Reading »


You could, for mental exercise, do worseThan work the puzzle of a universeThat kindly took the trouble to exist:Of mysteries, it’s said, the mightiest. Which isn’t to suggest you aren’t oneThis mystery can be borne in uponBy hints that speak as little to the mindAs whispers from a field in a . . . . Continue Reading »

Old Possum Ain't Dead

When T. S. Eliot gave a lecture on “The Frontiers of Criticism” on April 30, 1956, in the Williams Arena at the University of Minnesota—the largest basketball arena in America at the time—­nearly fourteen thousand people showed up. A front-page column for the Minneapolis . . . . Continue Reading »

The Mortal Longing After Loveliness

When Xerxes, king of Persia, was on the march,He met a beauty, marvelous and fair,And hung her round with costly ornaments,Tasking a man to be her paladin:So says the Persian-born Herodotus. Her lovely tent of green threshed light from air,And crooked, wide-flung branches sought the ground,Rambled, . . . . Continue Reading »

Evening, Washington Metro

Entrained, en masse, an ebb as from a beach:the tide drawn by the Capitol (the domeour moon) subsides. We move as one, yet eachtoward some divisibility called home. The trope (an ocean’s oneness) seemed more apt,or felt more apt, when, not so long ago,the “each” was not each entity enraptby . . . . Continue Reading »

Sweat The Small Stuff

One cause of American society’s shift to the left over the past six decades has been a series of subtle acts of “progress” that, at their inception, did not appear to be political at all. Only after their acceptance did their implications become clear. An example, one (­apparently) far from . . . . Continue Reading »


When all goes ill instead of well,There is no remedy but love.Test after test, results do tellWhen all goes ill instead of well.Our words and deeds each stint or spellReveal what we are both made of.When all goes ill instead of well,There is no remedy but love. —Jane Blanchard Image by . . . . Continue Reading »

Filter Tag Articles