Magazine | December 31, 2009, Issue

Translators

In the beforetime, under a different administration,

There were marsupial words, chameleon words in trees,

Words shedding their wings and tunneling in the sea – 

Clever and strong, out-thronging all our mute associations.

Among them went the poor hunters of words, into a stark

And dreary contest. Most dissolved when spat on.

Or imagine being hopeful, small and sat on

By a behemoth epic myth lured from the dark.

Yet efforts did persist, since words were useful things,

As proven by certain midden-heaps of note

That show the bones of comedy cooked with votes,

And also oration hides made into slings.

Once in a while a tender soul took home

A gold-hoofed lyric antelope to feed — Winsome, admired,

but it would not breed.

Now all these creatures’ habitat is gone.

But wonder on wonder: Maybe cynically,

They left what could be hounded in the dust

By the henchmen of their perished captors — us.

From the ruins of that strange menagerie,

We sift the endless pails-full for a hoary

Vertebra or a molar, the single part

Left in the flattened cage of the world’s heart – 

Evidence of a story of a story.

 – SARAH RUDEN

Sarah Ruden’s most recent work is a translation of Augustine’s Confessions.

In This Issue

Articles

Politics & Policy

Air Power

While on the surface it seems to be a simple matter of environmental policy, the finding by the Environmental Protection Agency that greenhouse gases endanger human health and welfare actually ...
Politics & Policy

Growth Is Not Enough

On hearing that the unemployment rate had finally started to drop, conservatives and Republicans were stony-faced. On December 4, the Department of Labor reported its initial estimate that the economy ...

Features

Books, Arts & Manners

Sections

Politics & Policy

Translators

In the beforetime, under a different administration, There were marsupial words, chameleon words in trees, Words shedding their wings and tunneling in the sea –  Clever and strong, out-thronging all our mute associations. Among ...
Happy Warrior

Czar Vlad’s Guano

We pundit types are expected to have opinions on everything, but I confess I would have been momentarily stymied had I chanced to be in the big geopolitical-analysis chair on ...
Politics & Policy

Letters

Regression Dissection I am normally a fan of Kevin A. Hassett’s NR contributions, but I found his most recent column (“The Metamorphosis,” December 21) unconvincing. The graph accompanying the piece appears ...
Politics & Policy

The Week

‐ Winters in Illinois: Obama finally gets tough with the terrorists. ‐ Just in time for Christmas came a new batch of polls bearing glad tidings for Republicans. Many more people ...
The Long View

Transcript: Larry King Live

LARRY KING: Tomorrow night! The whole hour with the cast of Fantasy Island! Living and not! From Indianola, Mississippi! Hello! CALLER: Hi, Larry. Hello, Mr. Claus. S. CLAUS: Ho ho. CALLER: I just ...

Most Popular

White House

Nikki Haley Has a Point

Nikki Haley isn’t a Deep Stater. She’s not a saboteur. She wouldn’t undermine the duly elected president, no siree! That’s the message that comes along with Haley’s new memoir With All Due Respect. In that book, she gives the politician’s review of her career so far, shares some details about her ... Read More
Books

A Preposterous Review

A   Georgetown University professor named Charles King has reviewed my new book The Case for Nationalism for Foreign Affairs, and his review is a train wreck. It is worth dwelling on, not only because the review contains most of the lines of attack against my book, but because it is extraordinarily shoddy and ... Read More