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The Legend of Death

So yesterday, while searching the New College library catalogue in search of a couple of books by John Milbank, I saw a title that jumped out at me: The Legend of Death: Two Poetic Sequences, published just last year. And yes, it was by John Milbank. The same Milbank who writes the labyrinthine, brain-dissolving prose of Theology and Social Theory, is, apparently, a poet. But I suppose that if poetry is, as Dr. Leithart says, "concentrated excess," then it makes sense, since Milbank's writing certainly fits that description. And if Milbank were to write poetry, it makes sense that he'd pick a melodramatic title like The Legend of Death.

Here's a sample, "Via Moderna":

The day vanishes
in its very dawning

We might have soared through it
like birds rushing upon the waters.

But all was lost at the outset:
with crumbling nuggets of darkness
like charcoal we signed the warrants
of our own fatal autonomy.

They were derived from
the buried remains of the wood
that must haunt us long after
the final axe-blow will have fallen.

For in reality it is the absolute trees
that are but shadowed
by the gusts of 'little things'
of our own nominal sad contriving.


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