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

More in Heaven and Earth

 Robert Frost: The Poet as Philosopher   by peter j. stanlis isi, 350 pages, $28 Poor Robert Frost. Nearly half a century after his death, he is still suffering at the hands of both friends and enemies. Frost brought much of this problem on himself when he selected a troubled young . . . . Continue Reading »

Horace’s Satires I:VI

When I am in the mood, I go explore entirely alone and ascertain the prices set for vegetables and grain. As evening falls, I often wander through the sketchy Circus and the Forum too. I stand beside astrologers, then troop back home to have some leek and chickpea . . . . Continue Reading »

Auto da Fe

1 The walls hear The windows see Inside I burn No one comes To rescue me It is my turn 2 Like a gutted house I am burned out By love — Samuel MenasheImage by Pixabay. Image cropped. . . . . Continue Reading »

Three Holidays in One Afternoon

A bloody handprint on a windowpane Beneath which, blood-scrawled letters spell Beware. Across the street, a pumpkin with straw hair Gathers his seedy thoughts like Harvest grain. Then, like an evening shadow, Halloween Spreads darkness down the block, and black despair. The bloody handprint on the . . . . Continue Reading »

Our Dip in the Rift Valley

We never heard what my mate heard descending to the Dead Sea by bus: a jet fighter far below him streaking north gomorrah and SDOM! Our trip was nearly in peacetime. I remember my surprise at my first view of our goal, not a white brine pan, it twinkled cheerfully blue like any sunny lake. It . . . . Continue Reading »

The Witness of Czeslaw Milosz

Czeslaw Milosz was born in Szetejnie in 1911 and raised in Wilno, both of which are in present-day Lithuania. His family was part of the large Polish-speaking population of that city. For this reason he identified himself as a Polish writer. Living there through his university education, he was . . . . Continue Reading »


When my fantasies, and these extreme regrets, shut my eyes in sleep, I discover, before me, the risin spirit of my lover, who was, even in life, always a dream. Then across some desert, where I can barely see the endlessly distant horizons, I pursue my love without success. She fades from view, by . . . . Continue Reading »


Like the weary sailor, the refugee from wreck and storm, who escapes half-dead, and then, in terror, shudders with dread at the very mention of the name of the “sea”; who swears he’ll never sail again, who raves he’ll stay home, even on the calmest days, but then, in time, forgets his . . . . Continue Reading »

Auden and the Limits of Poetry

By the mid-1930s, W. H. Auden was the most famous and most widely imitated young poet in England. His verse was brilliant, ironic, often funny, wide-ranging in its reference—equally at home in the worlds of Anglo-Saxon heroic poetry and the technology of mining—and sometimes . . . . Continue Reading »

Filter Tag Articles