Jesus’ Other Life

When a writer takes, as it would seem, every imaginable risk in subject, handling, plot…opening himself most widely to charges of triviality, sensationalism, imperceptiveness, impiety, and blasphemy, and yet incredibly triumphs over them all, another danger is incurred. The reader may become too curiously interested in how the feat has …

Spanish Moss

Seaweed astream, you live by Air—    Whose Prince it was invented Loss, First raised the Standard of Despair—    Wave, wave your Banners, Spanish Moss! Here where brother shot down brother    Despair’s not hard to put across, Where South and North destroyed each other …

For Conrad Aiken’s Ninety-Ninth Birthday

Four years and four decades ago Your notice taught me what I’ld owe To one who, an acknowledged Prince, Has guided critics ever since: No trifling feat. Now that you’re eighty, Whichever others may grow pratey, Your wit’s as fresh, as quick, as weighty.

Growing Pains

Can a study suffer from an Ishmael complex? Yes, if it has special difficulties in establishing its own independence in its peculiar field and methodology. For a while it may go on in a lonely, hoity-toity way, full of airs and ires, issuing denunciations, injunctions, and excommunications, venting its hostility …

Mariner IV

Sent all those million miles To flash that terminal crater here In dust-size dots For men to peer At in the files; And, too, To show, in martial play, What we could do, Let’s say, To the waste lots.