the imaginative conservative logo

James Matthew Wilson

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.

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...

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...

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...

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...

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...

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...
1 2668

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...
0 2018

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...
1 6554

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).
0 2503

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,...
0 8919

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...
0 5993

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"...
1 6149

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...