Magazine July 20, 2009, Issue

Poetry

Tall ships (L-R) Falken of Sweden, Sagres of Portugal, Juan Sebastian de Elcano of Spain, and Amerigo Vespucci of Italy, sail in the second stage of the 50th-anniversary Tall Ships race in Lisbon, Portugal, July 23, 2006. (Jose Manuel Ribeiro/Reuters )
BOCAGE

1789
When you deserted your military post,
you fled from India as a refugee,
then sailed — where else? — to Macao off the coast
of China, at the edge of the South China Sea.
At twenty-three, you’d made a perfect mess
of your life, reinventing ways to fail,
but the future would be much worse (did you guess?):
illness, enemies, poverty, even jail.
But, now, there is this momentary peace
four thousand miles from Lisbon and home,
where Camões once came to write his masterpiece,
some sonnets, but, most important, the epic poem,
and maybe on this beach, calm and serene,
he wrote, “Love is a fire that burns …

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Books, Arts & Manners

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Letters

Letters

I read William Voegeli’s review of Soft Despotism, Democracy’s Drift with pleasure and genuine interest.
Poetry

Poetry

When you deserted your military post, you fled from India as a refugee, then sailed — where else?

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