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.
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
Let me tell you about a bullet
And a body.
A Sunday Mass
Tolled its loud bells
While we all stood
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...
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
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...
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...
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,...
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...
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...