Magazine | September 8, 2014, Issue




The greatest metaphor of them all

In the end stands only for the rise and fall

Of itself. The tides, boats and sailors,

Even the seagulls, symbolize the great substitution

Of one reality for another

Of gray skies for bad weather

Or trouble, which it is.

The sea rolls over itself

A compass in a gale that can never fail,

As timeless as a ship in the distance

That doesn’t move

Then is gone in a moment,

In the sweep of a gull’s wing overhead

As the sea rolls back into place.

A ring-billed gull stands still as a statue out on the jetty

As fishermen lash bait into the surf

And the spray seems to answer them

Thrown against the rocks.

The tide withdraws and all are there,

The sandpipers sweeping a vast apron of sand,

The couples and families and loners

watching them in the twilight.


O’Neill was the last sea writer to summon

The waves to obey him as he told his tale,

Scanning horizons and charts,

Bound for Wales or Argentina,

Swedes, Wobblies, black sheep

From New England farms, young, old,

Confident, crazy, an occasional accused spy.

Whatever information the sea held

Was hidden in the pace of the waves,

The endless push and struggle and swelling

Of the water to overtake itself, become

More than it was or ever could reach

Before settling for the old tidal release and return

To the depths to gather strength.

Lawrence Dugan's poetry has appeared recently in Arion, National Review, The Spectator and The Threepenny Review.

In This Issue


Politics & Policy

A Party for All

When Rand Paul first ran for the Senate in 2010, it was far from obvious that he’d become the GOP’s chief ambassador to African-American voters. Shortly after besting an establishment-backed ...


Politics & Policy

The Gridlock Clause

Since 2010, when the Democrats lost their majority in the House and their filibuster-proof majority in the Senate, President Obama’s ability to pursue legislative changes has ground to a halt. ...

Books, Arts & Manners

Politics & Policy


Conservative book sales are dropping, according to some recent reports. But Jim Geraghty’s latest work may just usher in a resurgence — by providing a new model of fresh, fun, ...
Politics & Policy

A Salzburg Quartet

Salzburg, Austria — The Vienna Philharmonic is the king orchestra here: the resident orchestra, the nightly orchestra. But there are guests, including the Philharmonia Orchestra. This is a London group, ...


Politics & Policy


Baseball Legends An item in “The Week” (August 11) makes fun, with good reason, of Major League Baseball’s new “ambassador for inclusion” of “people of diversity.” The item states that “there’s ...
Politics & Policy

The Week

‐ Nixon and race riots in the news — the Left must be feeling nostalgic. ‐ President Obama won’t be boasting about, to use his terms, “restarting” the Iraq War, but ...

License to Breed

You know you’re reading a British website when you see the word “foetus,” and you know you’re reading a leftist writer when the article is about banning the squirmy little ...
Politics & Policy


O’NEILL AND THE SEA I. The greatest metaphor of them all In the end stands only for the rise and fall Of itself. The tides, boats and sailors, Even the seagulls, symbolize the great substitution Of ...

Most Popular

White House

The Trivialization of Impeachment

We have a serious governance problem. Our system is based on separation of powers, because liberty depends on preventing any component of the state from accumulating too much authority -- that’s how tyrants are born. For the system to work, the components have to be able to check each other: The federal and ... Read More

‘Texodus’ Bodes Badly for Republicans

‘I am a classically trained engineer," says Representative Will Hurd, a Texas Republican, "and I firmly believe in regression to the mean." Applying a concept from statistics to the randomness of today's politics is problematic. In any case, Hurd, 42, is not waiting for the regression of our politics from the ... Read More

In Defense of Tulsi

Some years ago, a liberal-minded friend of mine complained during lunch that Fox News was “stealing” his elderly parents. “They should be enjoying retirement,” he said, noting that they live in a modest but comfortable style with attentive children and grandchildren to enjoy. “But instead,” he sighed, ... Read More

Not Less Religion, Just Different Religion

The Pew Poll tells us that society is secularizing -- particularly among the young -- and who can deny it? That is one reason that the free expression of religion is under such intense pressure in the West. But it seems to me that we aren't really becoming less religious. Rather, many are merely changing that ... Read More