Saturday, February 28, 2015

A notable passing

Father Theodore Hesburgh, former long-time president of Notre Dame University, has died at age 97. I took note of him here in 2004. I also owe him for introducing me to Sigrid Undset's magnificent novel Kristin Lavransdatter. I've written about this book often on this blog. You can search the archive at lavransdatter.

Friday, February 20, 2015


My daughter Margaret is a senior editor at Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, which means I occasionally get a pre-publication copy of a favorite author.  And so it is that I am reading Donald Hall's latest, Essays After Eighty, with a lovely close-up photo of the grizzled old poet on the cover.

Hall, 85, claims he no longer has the mental agility for poetry - that most demanding of the language arts.  His essays however are as quick and lively as ever.  Prose after eighty.

I dabbled in poetry as a young man, but quickly gave it up; even then I knew I lacked the wherewithal.  Now, as I approach eighty, prose too is slipping from my (quaky, Parkinson) grasp.

Some of you have recommended voice-transcription software, but, like Hall, my greatest pleasure in writing is revision.  And so I slip into silence.

I may not have Donald Hall's considerable gifts of poetry and prose, but I increasingly share his octogenarian fondness for naps.

Monday, February 16, 2015

Thursday, February 12, 2015

The Arrow-maker

Click to enlarge Anne's Valentine.

Monday, February 09, 2015

Echoes in the Silence

For some time I have been tempted to collect the dozens of commentaries I have posted here over the past decade on works of visual art, which have given interpretive expression to the themes that define this blog. For the first time I am scrolling through the archive, starting in 2004. I'm a little astonished at how many words I have compiled here, more than all my books put together, more than 20 years of Globe columns.

Here's a little essay from 2006, more life support for the blog.

Sunday, February 08, 2015


Another little Leonardo fantasy.

Friday, February 06, 2015


An echo from the past.

Tuesday, February 03, 2015


I hear you, I hear you. And yet I'm drawn into "the Great Silence". But I offer this by way of explanation, a reprise from the past.

Sunday, February 01, 2015

Iron woman

Click to enlarge Anne's illumination.