Et in Arcadia Ego (A Poem)

The evergreens haunt the vineyard’s margin, encircling the bare
Truck-and-backhoe mangled hill from whose dry crest I stare

Across the lines of planted vines, in early spring; their dry
And lightening bark like chicken feet clutching at the sky.

The gravel spread about their husks reflects in crystaled gray
The inchoate heat the season brings educing each new spray;

And sour tar pearls dulled with dust bud on their fragile tendrils.
This is a time of promise and fear, an age that undoes men’s wills,

And holds their eyes upon the living leaf, whose veined underside
Is death, and on these mildewed stakes, where fruit to rot is tied.

I too am here, it blurts in mud, it hums along the wires
Strung with notes of pinot noir, and gargles in the fire.

The cold wind cuts in from the lake. The season soon will turn
And, in its humid forgetfulness, prepare a darker turn.


James Matthew Wilson is Associate Professor in the Department of Humanities and Augustinian Traditions at Villanova University. An award-winning scholar of philosophical-theology and literature, he has authored dozens of essays, articles, and reviews on subjects ranging from art, ethics, and politics, to meter and poetic form, from the importance of local culture to the nature of truth, goodness, and beauty.

Wilson is also a poet and critic of contemporary poetry, whose work appears regularly in such magazines and journals as First Things, Modern Age, The New Criterion, Dappled Things, Measure, The Weekly Standard, Front Porch Republic, The Raintown Review, and The American Conservative. He has published five books, including most recently, a collection of poems, Some Permanent Things and a monograph, The Catholic Imagination in Modern American Poetry (both Wiseblood Books, 2014).

You can read more about James on Front Porch Republic.

Republished with permission. Image by Unsplash via Pixabay.

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