Magazine | September 7, 2015, Issue

Poetry

ORPHAN

What was I looking for in that room

Crowded with old books, shelves so full,

It seemed they could not hold another title,

Except where in places a weary volume

Leaned upon its neighbor’s crooked spine?

Some dimly remembered novel or poem

I once read and loved, or dreamed of?

Either a real book or the book of dreams

A friend once advised me to record:

Write upon waking, the dreams will come

If you wait and listen, word for word.

And night and day must be reconciled

Like mother and father, parent and child,

Brother and sister, lovers who have quarreled.

Although I never did as I was told,

I have met the morning every day I could,

Shaken the darkness, come to the table,

Truly grateful for what fare was offered,

Bran or manna, ambrosia or bread,

A sentence, a tragedy, or a kind word.

And now, almost sixty and an orphan –

As nature would have it — I am the age

My father was when he died. Every day

Seems to me it might be the final one.

Pressed for time to make peace with the past,

I look for a book so broad-backed and strong

That it will stand up on the shelf alone.

In This Issue

Articles

Features

Books, Arts & Manners

Politics & Policy

Cruising Speed

It’s striking that the five Mission: Impossible films, made across two decades in an ever-changing Hollywood, have all starred Tom Cruise. Even in this age of franchises and costumed stars, ...
Politics & Policy

Found Wanting

In a country in which fewer and fewer people serve in an ever-shrinking all-volunteer military, it can be difficult to make a comprehensive case to the civilian public about the ...

Sections

Politics & Policy

The Week

‐ Hillary has been wearing orange pantsuits. Someone’s been planning ahead. ‐ In a speech at American University defending his Iran deal, President Obama accused its Republican opponents of making “common ...
Politics & Policy

Poetry

ORPHAN What was I looking for in that room Crowded with old books, shelves so full, It seemed they could not hold another title, Except where in places a weary volume Leaned upon its neighbor’s ...
Politics & Policy

Letters

Is Puerto Rico Back from the Brink? Writing in the Week (July 20), National Review’s editors incorrectly characterize Puerto Rico governor Alejandro Garcia Padilla. Their unfair portrayal of his efforts to ...

Most Popular

Politics & Policy

Ten Questions for the ‘Squad’

Democratic infighting reached a fever pitch last week with bickering and personal attacks between members of the “Squad” and other House Democrats. During that period, Squad members Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Ilhan Omar, Rashida Tlaib, and Ayanna Pressley mostly avoided doing interviews. However, that all ... Read More
World

Who Is Boris Johnson?

By next week at this time, Boris Johnson will be prime minister of the United Kingdom. Not since Margaret Thatcher has such an outsized personality resided in Number 10 Downing Street. Not since Winston Churchill has such a wit presided over Her Majesty’s Government. Wit is actually the chief reason for ... Read More
Culture

White Cats and Black Swans

Making a film of Cats is a bold endeavor — it is a musical with no real plot, based on T. S. Eliot’s idea of child-appropriate poems, and old Tom was a strange cat indeed. Casting Idris Elba as the criminal cat Macavity seems almost inevitable — he has always made a great gangster — but I think there was ... Read More