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A Poem For Sunday Morning

James Matthew Wilson (Wiseblood Books screenshot)

How Many Exiles In The Monastery

How many exiles in the monastery

Copied some painted page in heavy tomes

And filled its margins with the spry but weary

Details recalled of their forsaken homes?


Some displaced readers down the centuries

Have opened Dante’s De vulgari and found

Their pains ginned up as pride’s rhetorical breeze:

Pure language is the great man’s native ground. 


When, over cheap newspaper blurbs, we see

A plane’s white snout shredding the parceled sky —

A discount angel’s posed sublimity

That loathes outmoded bones — we know its lie:


The placeless freedom some words have is not

Ours; they’re what’s left when our homes go to rot.


— James Matthew Wilson

That poem is from The Hanging God, the new collection of poems by Wilson, about which I’ve written:

To read The Hanging God is to experience the ordinary world transformed by sly artfulness into a place filled with mystery and meaning. James Matthew Wilson is a poet who works like a priest, rendering the elements of quotidian life — its sublime gifts and severe mercies alike — into bearers of sacramental grace. Wilson sees deeper than we do; and in these poems, with lucidity both stark and humane, he reveals profundity hidden beneath everydayness.

The man can write. I urge you to read the whole thing. 




about the author

Rod Dreher is a senior editor at The American Conservative. A veteran of three decades of magazine and newspaper journalism, he has also written three New York Times bestsellers—Live Not By Lies, The Benedict Option, and The Little Way of Ruthie Lemingas well as Crunchy Cons and How Dante Can Save Your Life. Dreher lives in Baton Rouge, La.

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