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We live in a world characterized by a flattened culture and increasingly meaningless freedoms. Little regard is paid to the necessity for those overlapping local and regional groups, communities, and associations that provide a matrix for human flourishing. We’re in a bad way, and the spokesmen and spokeswomen of both our Left and our Right are, for the most part, seriously misguided in their attempts to provide diagnoses, let alone solutions.


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MARCH 20, 2012 8:33PM

Sonnets of Deracination

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Devon, PA.  Measure: A Review of Formal Poetry has been one of the few consistently good poetry journals since it began publication in 2006, and is one of the great cultural institutions of southern Indiana.  The latest issue is out, featuring poems by and an interview with Powow River poet Rhina P. Espaillat, and an essay on the late John Ciardi (one of the most interesting American poets of the mid-twentieth century, whose reputation is slowly recovering from a precipitous posthumous decline).  The essay is by Maryann Corbett, whose great sonnet translation FPR published in its newsletter last year, and who is an accomplished poet in her own right.

The new issue also features a sonnet of my own, which they have put online here.  I encourage readers interested in poetry faithful to the verse tradition to explore the journal and support it.

I print below my sonnet, along with a recording of the poem.  It recalls my summers spent in Dublin during the tale end of the Celtic Tiger, when most of the maids were Polish, the coffee Italian, and the drunk bachelorettes English.  All is changed now, changed utterly.  The self-destruction of Irish culture and the Irish Church through the evils of avarice, arrogance, and perversion already lurks in the background here, but in the context of a country still too infatuated with new found prosperity to reflect on the fragility of it all.

Immigrant Serving Maid in Dublin

 This morning in the tiled scullery,

   The sunk-eyed Romanian girl whose job it is

To serve the jetlagged tourists toast and tea,

   Stared out beyond the sugar cubes, cream tins,


And lumpy raisin scones, her arms set cross

   Her belly in an absent stewardship,

A chessboard apron falling at her waist,

   And no translatable word upon her lip.


Within her vagrant loneliness, the rushed

   Complaints at how the hotel breakfast tastes,

The momentary tourist’s sneer, can’t touch

   The boredom or the longing in her face;


    She’s been borne here not on wings of desire

   But just to work and send home cash by wire.


Copies of my chapbook of poems, Four Verse Letters (2010), are still available by writing to

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