The Corner

Poetry

FIRST WORDS

And then I resolved that thenceforward I would choose for the theme of my writing only the praise of this most gracious being. But when I had thought exceedingly, it seemed to me that I had taken to myself a theme which was much too lofty, so that I dared not begin.

– Dante

A pounding in his heart gave him a shove –    

  More like a slap — and set his mind to writing,

Ladies who have intelligence of love.

 

He had not slept for nights, but stared above    

  Him at the ceiling till, upon its brightening,

A pounding in his heart gave him a shove,

 

As one might a small boat out from a cove    

  To dare the open sea however frightening.

Ladies who have intelligence of love,

 

Such words ensnared his mind but his hand moved,    

  Scoring with strokes the page as if it were lightning.

A pounding in his heart gave him a shove;

 

Yes, soon, he’d claim an angel or a dove    

  Had whispered such words to him without flyting

Ladies who have intelligence of love –

 

But we who’ve felt love’s pain know the sort of    

  Rough wrangling through which he had been fighting

When pounding in his heart gave him a shove:

Ladies who have intelligence of love.

 

 James Matthew Wilson

This poem appears in the Nov. 21 print issue of National Review.

NRO Staff — Members of the National Review Online editorial and operational teams are included under the umbrella “NR Staff.”

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