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.