James Matthew Wilson
My family’s was a plain, laconic speech,
The sort intended never to impress
But, with a grudge at broken silence, reach
Its point and stop, if it could do no less.
Small wonder, then, that all extravagance
Should once have struck me with a blush of shame
And yet still drew my eyes as radiance
Wielded a power I sensed but could not name.
But wonderful indeed that, having known
Deep labyrinths and the colosseum of stars,
And even claimed their glory for my own,
I feel at last how gaudy excess mars
A line, and find a measured dignity
In that rude speech that was first given to me.
James Matthew Wilson is Associate Professor of Religion and Literature in the Department of Humanities and Augustinian Traditions at Villanova University. An award-winning scholar of philosophical theology and literature, as well as a poet and critic of contemporary poetry, he is the author of several books, including The Hanging God and The River of the Immaculate Conception. His work has been published in First Things, The Hudson Review, Modern Age, The New Criterion, Dappled Things, Measure, The Weekly Standard, Front Porch Republic, The Raintown Review, National Review, and The American Conservative. His Quarantine Notebook, from which selections appear in this issue, is forthcoming from Angelico Press.