Magazine | February 23, 2015, Issue

Poetry

THE MESSENGER

This blind matter troubleth my wit.

                                                             Everyman

We waited for the messenger all night,

A mixed report though certainly it shocks,

When summoning what little souls we have

He drums them like dumb echoes from the rocks.

What tidings from the visible horizon?

What signs before the sunrise is outspent?

Fire, earth, and waves that ride the air —

The hurl and plummet of their last ascent.

The arc of noon commemorates no triumph.

Shadows shorten, stand, and start to yield.

A cry goes up, “The truth! We want the truth!”

But nothing more than silence is revealed.

What tidings from the visible horizon?

What signs before the sunlight is outspent?

Fire, earth, and waves that ride the air —

The hurl and plummet of their last ascent.

Above the ocean’s face the sun expands

And overflows us like the tears of Christ,

And all await the word, the final word,

To know if this much suffering has sufficed.

What tidings from the visible horizon?

What signs before the sunset is outspent?

Fire, earth, and waves that ride the air —

The hurl and plummet of their last ascent.

Novelist and critic Lee Oser teaches English at the College of the Holy Cross in Worcester, Massachusetts.

In This Issue

Articles

Politics & Policy

A Hand Withheld

It’s rare for a president to conclude a State of the Union address with a long passage noting that his presidency “hasn’t delivered” on one of its central promises. President ...

Features

Politics & Policy

Foreign Policy by Map

George W. Bush left office with his activist foreign policy in disrepute. Fast-forward six years: President Barack Obama has pursued, in some respects, the opposite approach, and yet he has ...

Books, Arts & Manners

Politics & Policy

Bloody Crossroads Redux

There have been two great political wars this Oscar season, and both have involved American liberals’ complex relationship with the movies. What makes this relationship complicated is that liberals have ...
City Desk

The City, from Afar

The road follows the right angles of everything out here, farms, townships, counties, states. On either side, fields showing stubble. Thick gnarly trees mark homesteads and cemeteries. Where the land ...
Politics & Policy

Midcentury Mores

Edward Mendelson is one of our mandarin humanistic intellectuals — Lionel Trilling Professor in the Humanities at Columbia, literary executor of the estate of W. H. Auden, an expert on ...

Sections

Politics & Policy

Letters

Contraception, Continued Robert VerBruggen agues that pro-lifers should support the promotion of contraceptives that sometimes may act as abortifacients (“On a LARC,” December 31). The death rate for unimplanted embryos is ...
Politics & Policy

The Week

‐ Vaccines seem to do strange things to the mind — at least for politicians. ‐ Wisconsin governor Scott Walker took an early, if narrow, lead in a poll of Iowa Republicans. ...
Athwart

Lifespan Liberalism

There’s no shortage of studies that attempt to show how liberals and conservatives are different species who happen to share hominid form. Liberals are conveniently revealed by Cold Science to ...
Politics & Policy

Poetry

THE MESSENGER This blind matter troubleth my wit.                                                              Everyman We waited for the messenger all night, A mixed report though certainly it shocks, When summoning what little souls we have He drums them like dumb echoes ...

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