James Matthew Wilson

About James Matthew Wilson

James Matthew Wilson is Associate Professor of Religion and Literature in the Department of Humanities and Augustinian Traditions at Villanova University, and the Poetry Editor of Modern Age magazine. An award-winning scholar of philosophical-theology and literature, he has authored dozens of essays, articles, and reviews on all manner of subjects secular and divine. His poetry and criticism of contemporary poetry appear regularly in such journals as First Things, The New Criterion, National Review, and The American Conservative. Dr. Wilson is the author of eight books, including The Hanging God, and The Vision of the Soul: Truth, Goodness, and Beauty in the Western Tradition, and The Fortunes of Poetry in an Age of Unmaking. Visit his website.

“All the Hollowed Shells”

By |2019-02-13T12:47:02-05:00February 12th, 2019|

in Cahirciveen We found a thousand hollow shells left scattered Among the rocky, kelp-strewn teeth of shore: Some of the seeping, tight-lipped hunks were shattered, Tossed up by chance and left as dried decor For tourists like myself to stow away In pockets, as a keep-sake of their day. Behind me, crumbling stones from old [...]

“Stations of Divorce”

By |2019-02-11T22:45:38-05:00February 5th, 2019|

The train runs, carrying her amongst her things, A bag upon her lap like some dull child To whom her pale but red-ringed throat never sings. All songs forgot, as she grows clenched and riled. Her hand, all nerves, combs over a blond case As if to soothe it on the lurching pace From station [...]

“The Shankill Road”

By |2019-01-29T13:04:27-05:00January 29th, 2019|

Let me tell you about a bullet And a body.             -Virgil A Sunday Mass Tolled its loud bells While we all stood Near tenements; And broken glass Crunched like old shells Through the neighborhood, Where a mural presents What’s come to pass: Masked men, spent shells, In a field of blood And discontents. Republished [...]

“At Bar Harbor Once, And Once…”

By |2019-02-13T12:48:06-05:00January 22nd, 2019|

Innis mór We scrambled up the craterous outcrop That ruptured like an isle among gray sands Spread thin around Cill Éinne Bay.  A sop Of drying kelp lay tangled in red strands, Half-covering a shallow pool, inside Which a few trapped snails slinked till the next tide. Some other aged and rough concentric shells Hung from [...]

“Slane Hill Graves”

By |2019-01-15T15:46:16-05:00January 15th, 2019|

I stood atop Slane Hill Where Patrick’s fire burned And chapel floors now fill With cold rain.  Each cracked grave About has risen with The dead.  And tourists, turned On knotted, brazen lists Of all the “weak or brave,” In any case, those lost Beneath the winning miens Of history.  The cost Of burial is [...]

“On a Sculpture by Herbert Adams”

By |2019-01-14T11:38:35-05:00January 8th, 2019|

American Beauty Exhibition, National Gallery, Dublin I The wounded anger in your eyes, last night, Seemed for the first time and, perhaps, the last, To cut through every screen of charm, and sight In me the innards of a sordid past. “For too long now,” you said, “I’ve thought you were Not perfect but, well, [...]

T.S. Eliot: Culture and Anarchy

By |2018-11-17T08:35:04-05:00February 26th, 2018|

If we take a careful look at T.S. Eliot, we shall see a born conservative, attached to certain austere traditions of previous ages, and yet one who saw clearly that those traditions had worn thin—they had grown conventional and insincere because no one had bothered to establish convincingly why they were important… Today’s offering [...]

East of Early Winters: The Poetic Craft

By |2019-01-07T14:11:39-05:00February 19th, 2016|

East of Early Winters, by Richard Wakefield (The University of Evansville Press, 2006) No period in the history of the arts more doggedly insisted on its concern with craft—its identification of artist with artisan—than did the Modernist period at the beginning of the twentieth century. And yet, at no time were the familiar features [...]

The Nihilism and Hypocrisy of Language Poetry

By |2018-10-23T13:06:34-05:00January 19th, 2016|

I want a poem as real as an Orange Julius — Charles Bernstein The following essay is excerpted and slightly adapted from The Fortunes of Poetry in an Age of Unmaking (Wiseblood Books, 2015). Henry Wallis, “The Death of Chatterton” (1856) Most poets in our day have abandoned meter and rhyme, but hold onto [...]

The Fruit Beyond Mere Utility

By |2015-03-02T11:09:44-05:00January 11th, 2015|Tags: |

Nothing is a Matter of Course Reports on the life and mission of orchestras and other institutions of classical music in our time make for vexed, sometimes dispiriting, reading. If you attend to them, as I have of late, you are likely to come across ledes like the following: Orchestras Feeding America is a [...]

T.S. Eliot: Culture and Anarchy

By |2014-03-28T16:49:08-05:00March 30th, 2014|Tags: , |

The title of my talk today may strike some of you as curious, if not confused. One recognizes the name of the Nobel-prize-winning Anglo-American poet and critic, T.S. Eliot; one may recall also that, late in his career, he published a small book entitled Notes Toward the Definition of Culture (1948). But the phrase, [...]

Nihilism or Idolatry: All Things Shining

By |2016-08-03T10:36:59-05:00December 26th, 2013|Tags: , |

All Things Shining: Reading the Western Classics to Find Meaning in a Secular Age by Hubert Dreyfus and Sean Dorrance Kelly The authors of this latest attempt to give life “meaning” and to “uncover the wonder” of the world—concealed, as it has been, by modern technological culture—begin their argument with an episode. In 2007, a [...]

Fables of Fragility

By |2014-01-31T14:37:50-05:00November 16th, 2013|Tags: , |

By the time George Orwell’s Animal Farm appeared in August of 1945, its readers were well prepared to sift the animals that constitute its cast of characters for their real-life analogues. The atrocities of Joseph Stalin’s totalitarian regime had come sufficiently to light that even leftist sympathizers and card-carrying Communists like Orwell could no longer ignore [...]