New for June 2000
Elizabeth Bishop Under the Microscope:
An Essay by Scott Edward Anderson

Marks on the Path of the Infinite:
Recent Reflections on Poets of the Great War

by Major Jeffrey C. Alfier

My Hiroshima, A Personal Epic
by Richard J. Schoeck

by Major Jeffrey C. Alfier

For guidelines on submitting reviews, please see below.

Elizabeth Bishop Under the Microscope:
An Essay by Scott Edward Anderson

originally published in The Bloomsbury Review, November/December 1996

In the autumn of 1978, I heard Elizabeth Bishop read in Rochester, New York. I didn't know much about her except that she was a friend of Robert Lowell's and somewhat of a protege of Marianne Moore--not bad credentials, in my mind. She was small and puckish and reminded me of my surrogate "Aunt," Gladys Taylor, who would have been her contemporary and with whom my family shared a house in Rhode Island during my formative years. Bishop's similarity to this important personal figure, along with the poet's own reading of her poems, put me into a holding pattern above the figure of Elizabeth Bishop. I have yet to touch ground.

In preparation for the reading, I had read the only books of hers I could find: Geography III (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 1976) and the Complete Poems (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 1969). I reacted to Bishop's poems with startled bemusement. Here was a poet unlike the other American poets I had been reading--the Beats and confessional poets like Lowell, and modernists like Pound and Williams. Her work was delicate and refined, quiet and well-crafted--the antithesis of the bombast and pluck to which I then subscribed, exemplified by Kerouac and Ginsberg's credo "first thought, best thought." Here was a quiet refutation of that dictum, the significance of which, in relation to my own poetry, I could not then have fairly understood. (Now, nearly twenty years later, as I seem to write poems only for the joys of revision, Bishop's example is ever more profound.)

So when my editor suggested I review Bishop's One Art: Letters of Elizabeth Bishop (Selected & Edited, and with an introduction by Robert Giroux, Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 1994), I could not resist the temptation to get to know this poet more intimately than I ever imagined. Well over a year later, I have devoured nearly everything written by or about her, and still, when I open The Complete Poems, 1927-1979 (Noonday, 1983), I remain startled and bemused. Such an intimate knowledge of Elizabeth Bishop and her life brings with it a certain responsibility; I've also discovered that the challenges posed by such an intense investigation have only deepened my feelings for her as both a poet and person. Having spent a year and a half with Elizabeth (I feel I know her well enough now to refer to her by her given name), I have rather fallen in love with the idea of Elizabeth Bishop, her work, and who she was.

This love affair is not without pitfalls. I have grown protective of her privacy and her gifts: How would she react to this exegesis of her life and work? What right do we have to pry so deeply into her private business? My Elizabeth Bishop, the one I have fashioned over all this time, is anything but reticent. From the composite portrait offered by Brett Miller's biography, Elizabeth Bishop: Life and the Memory of It (University of California, 1993), and the uneven but engaging oral biography, Remembering Elizabeth Bishop (University of Massachusetts, 1994), compiled by Gary Fountain and the late Peter Brazeau, but chiefly from Elizabeth's own writing, I've found a charmingly passionate guide to an alternative modernism. (Add to these recent titles what I've gleaned from David Kalstone's book on Bishop, Moore, and Lowell, Becoming a Poet [Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 1989]; Lorrie Goldensohn's delightful Elizabeth Bishop: The Biography of a Poetry [Columbia University Press, 1991]; and Bonnie Costello's critical study, Questions of Mastery [Harvard University Press, 1991].)

What I've come to realize, beyond this, is that Bishop was an intensely personal writer; thus, our response to her work is equally personal. I know scores of people who respond to her sensibility; yet, each does so in a very distinct way. Bishop's personal vision and precise expression touch her readers in ways that her contemporaries could not. Lowell may have written more and with greater intensity, but the finesse and control with which Bishop observed her world is unmatched in our century. This is what makes her such an important poet to her expanding readership and to our age.

* * *

In an 1883 letter to his cousin (reprinted in The Letters of Robert Louis Stevenson: Vol. II [Greenwood Press, 1969]), Stevenson wrote:

There is but one art--to omit! O if I knew how to omit, I would ask no other knowledge. A man who knew how to omit would make an Iliad of a daily paper.

Elizabeth Bishop's creative work fills two small volumes--her Complete Poems weighing in at 276 pages and Collected Prose (Noonday, 1984) at 274 pages. It is a wonder to have these letters, which bring her published writings, not counting the translation of The Diary of "Helena Morley" (1957, Noonday, 1995) or Brazil, the book she wrote for Time-Life in 1962, to just under 2,000 pages--but what pages!

Bishop was a private person, and I imagine she would be shocked at such a deep investigation of her private life and her public work. Her poetry has often been referred to, rather narrow-mindedly I feel, by a (largely male) community of critics as "dry," "impersonal," "distanced," and "unemotional." For anyone who has spent any serious time with her work and who has been guided by the poet's fine eye and ear for detail, her work is anything but dispassionate. She wrote slowly and with much deliberation and would not publish anything she felt was not absolutely ready. Coming, as much of her work did, at a time when others were engaged in personal introspection and egotistical posturing, it is easy to see why her perfectionism was often mistaken for reserve. Very few of her poems--"The Shampoo" and "Armadillo" being exceptions--were overtly personal in reference. She possessed a highly tuned sense of good manners, what used to be known as decorum. Bishop maintained a modesty throughout her life that is ill-suited to our society's passion for grisly details.

Bishop deplored what she saw as an inappropriate use of one's personal life (and the lives of one's acquaintances or friends) as fodder for poetry. When Robert Lowell published The Dolphin (OP) in 1973 and included therein many poems formed (and deformed) out of letters from his ex-wife Elizabeth Hardwick, Bishop quotes to him a letter written by Thomas Hardy in 1911, which refers to

an abuse which is said to have occurred--that of publishing details of a lately deceased man's life under the guise of a novel, with assurances of truth scattered in the newspapers.

She objected to the "mixing of fact and fiction in unknown proportions" throughout The Dolphin, and clearly felt uncomfortable with Lowell's (and others') mining of the darkest recesses of their own lives in their poetry. She concludes her quote from Hardy,

the power of getting lies believed about people through that channel...by stirring in a few truths, is a horror to contemplate.

* * *

Gerard Manley Hopkins once wrote in a letter date September 10, 1864 (Poems and Prose, Penguin 1971):

the letter-writer on principle does not make his letter only an answer; it is a work embodying perhaps answers to questions put by his correspondent but that is not its main motive.

How easy it is to imagine that Hopkins would have found in Elizabeth Bishop the very kind of correspondent he demanded. Her letters anticipate questions and provide insight into her own life as well as the lives of her addressees. She wrote exquisitely about her daily existence, her work, reading, and the people with whom she came in contact. Like Hopkins, whose letters Bishop had read in their published version, she never merely answered letters. In all her missives, of which a mere 500 or so are represented in One Art, Bishop entered into a dialogue with her correspondents. The dialogue begins in this book when Bishop was an innocent college senior, full of promise and just beginning to lay the groundwork for her life of letters.

Throughout this volume, Bishop's correspondence grows progressively intuitive and is deepened by her awareness of life's inner and outer turmoil. A poet of decorum and modesty, Bishop is a candid, but never immodest letter writer. When she admits that her companion and lover of 14 years, Lota de Macedo Soares, is battling mental illness and arteriosclerosis, she remains true to her conscience:

She has had violent fights with all our friends except two--and it seems they all thought she was "mad" several years before I did. But of course I got it all the time and almost all the nights, poor dear. I do know my own faults, you know--but this is really not because of me, although now all her obsessions have fixed on me--first love; then hate, etc.

Nearly all of Bishop's letters to Lota were destroyed after the latter's suicide in 1967, so our record of their relationship is rather one-dimensional. we do know, as Bishop tells one of her correspondents, that 10 or 12 of the years they spent together were the "happiest" the poet had known. What we are left with, however incomplete, is as close to an autobiography as Bishop ever got (although a few of her stories, which appear in the Complete Prose, deal with her early childhood in Nova Scotia and Massachusetts). Our feeling for the poet is deepened by the record of her life as represented in One Art; we come away thinking she was as much a genuine human being as a great artist.

These letters came from capable, if not always steady, hands. Bishop's letters to Dr. Anny Baumann, who helped her overcome alcoholism and deal with asthma and psoriasis, illustrate that her bouts of insecurity often led to depression, a state that aggravated both her asthma and her drinking. Yet, even here, our picture of the artist and person is not clouded by overt confession or melancholia. she could easily have dwelt on these problems, but in an early letter to Dr. Baumann, Bishop writes:

The drinking seems to have dwindled to about one evening once or twice a month, and I stop before it gets really bad, I think. Of course that's still once or twice too often, but what is best about it is that I don't seem to think about it any more at all, or go through all that remorse. I get to worrying about the past ten years or so and I wish I could stop doing that, but aside from that the drinking and the working both seem to have improved miraculously.

Bishop's obeisance to decorum prompts a chaste response to Robert Lowell's confession that "asking you [to marry him] is the might-have-been for me." She took four months to write back to him, and even then barely mentions the incident, only to say,

the whole phenomenon of your quick recovery and simultaneous productivity seems to me in looking back to be the real marvel of my summer.

* * *

Elizabeth Bishop's letters, even towards the end, kept her forthright, as she practiced a dying craft taken to the level of a personally revealing art. There are only two flaws with One Art: the twinned absence of the previously mentioned letters to Lota and the several thousand that Mr. Giroux had to forgo publishing in order to keep the volume manageable and affordable. Her letters are obviously the most important of the three most recent books about Bishop mentioned in this essay. All three, however, should be read by anyone seriously interested in what informed the writing of one of our country's finest poets. Finally, however, we are best left with Elizabeth's own words on her life and work, from the poem "One Art":

Even losing you (the joking voice, a gesture I love) I shan't have lied. It's evident the art of losing's not too hard to master though it may look like (Write it!) like disaster.

Marks on the Path of the Infinite:
Recent Reflections on Poets of the Great War

by Major Jeffrey C. Alfier

Poets and Pals of Picardy -- A Weekend On The Somme
Mary Ellen Freeman and Ted Smith, eds.
South Yorkshire, Great Britain: Pen & Sword Publishers 1999

Poets of the Great War
Tonie and Valmai Holt
South Yorkshire, Great Britain: Leo Cooper, 1999

All a poet can do is warn
--Wilfred Owen, killed in action, 4 Nov 1918

The First World War was the first major conflict in Europe where thousands of well-read citizens became soldiers. Literacy rates ran high as intellectuals and artists flocked to the ranks in unparalleled numbers resulting in the flowering of a vast literary corpus, especially poetry. Most of the war's poets from the British Commonwealth were brought up on Greek and Roman classics, biblical literature, Shakespeare, Sir Walter Scott, and the works of the Romantics and Victorians. Yet for many this war would prove the bitter dispossession of many cultural and spiritual underpinnings. This included pre-War abstract propositions concerning traditional values and belief systems as they were inherited from an infinite birthright of literature, philosophy, and theology.

Back home in Britain those who had no immediate experience of the war, particularly its first two years, were incredulous concerning the horrors of the trenches and 'No Man's Land.' Few would grasp the deleterious effects of this war until the casualty lists began to filter through to the newspapers. Such willful blindness was, ironically, in part the fault of poets, not those who went to war but instead those in the employ of the British government who wrote high-minded propaganda divorced from reality. In the summer of 1916, with many preferring the gloriously specious verse of such poets, the lights that would later go out all over Europe at the start of the Second World War dimmed on the banks of the Somme.

Two recently published studies offer us deep reflection upon this eminently literary war. Poets and Pals of Picardy -- A Weekend On The Somme, Mary Ellen Freeman and Ted Smith, eds., is a brilliantly structured and well-researched pilgrimage to the war's formerly desolate waste lands of Picardy, France. Tonie and Valmai Holt's Poets of the Great War is primarily a new biography of major, and some minor, English-speaking poets of the Great War. Neither book is a critical analysis concerned with prosody, linguistics and other technical aspects of poetics. Instead, they are a profound and living engagement with the visceral and imagistic power of the written word.

Fifth in a series of Cameos of the Western Front series, Freeman's Poets and Pals weaves some of history's most evocative and moving war poetry into a literary and historical odyssey. The poetry Freeman selected provides an insight into the soldier's mind as he lived and died on the same idyllic hills and valleys where Idealism and Byronic romanticism found their graves, and long-held beliefs of regeneration and immortality wavered. As American experience in the war suggests Belleau Wood and Mont St Michel, Aveluy and Thiepval Woods, the Somme, and Beaumont Hamel reign in the historical memory of Great Britain and Canada.

Similarly identified by Paul Fussell in his The Great War and Modern Memory, a pervading theme running throughout Freeman's book is the chasmal contradiction brought about in the minds of soldier-poets as they witnessed the dissolution of the pastoral world around them. Those who wrote literature prior to the war had often written pastorals which recalled Virgil's dream of a golden age of bucolic simplicity. Yet such pre-war innocence would be irrevocably changed. Later gunned-down by machine gun fire in Thiepval Wood, Lieutenant FP Crozier described the once tranquil landscapes as "masked with a wall of corpses." (p. 41). In this world turned upside down Freeman shows us brief but intense glimpses into the brotherhood forged in that most terrible of wars, where memories of friends killed in battle were etched indelibly upon the heart. As one man recalls of his friend and fellow officer, "I next saw him a dark speck on the German wire beyond the craters in the cold light of dawn." (p. 84). Or, as poet Tom Kettle framed it to his Irish comrades prior to being killed in 1916,

Know that we fools, now with the foolish dead,
Died not for flag, nor King, nor Emperor,
But for a dream, born in a herdsman's shed,
And for the secret Scripture of the poor.

Though many are familiar with the salient names among the poets of the Great War -- Sassoon, Owen, Blunden, Graves, and Rosenberg among them -- Freeman also includes the voices of the lesser-known poets. These were Graves' 'common asphodel' who found release from the terrors of war through putting experiences and impressions to verse, and are "equally deserving of our respect: theirs is by no means any less the achievement." (p. 83) Hence, Freeman reclaims for us something substantial of the more-often-than-not brief lives of men long wept into the lens of oblivion. For a high percentage of them, through poetry they unwittingly penned their own antiphons. Leslie Coulson, killed in action later in the war, wrote,

When night falls dark we creep
In silence to our dead.
We dig a few feet deep
And leave them there to sleep --
But blood at night is red,
Yea, even at night,
And a dead man's face is white.
And I dry my hands, that are also trained to kill,
And I look at the stars -- for the stars are beautiful still.

Even their letters home bore a poetically evocative eloquence. Freeman recalls one soldier's description of passing through a field of unburied dead, a sight giving poignant cast to the absurdity of war: "And in a great shell-hole, filled with blood and water, sat a dead Highlander and a dead German, gazing with sightless yellow eye-balls, into each other's faces." (p. 22)

Moreover, Freeman draws a special bond with those soldiers who simply vanished, whose very lives were ground away beneath the impersonal millstone of industrialized warfare. Today there are over 300,000 names of missing commemorated on the Commonwealth War Graves Commission's twenty-six Great War memorials in France and Belgium. In the summer of 1999, this reviewer toured the American and German cemeteries in the Meuse-Argonne region of France. Just when the eye grasps the vastness of the sea of crosses, one comes to the walls listing the names of the missing. These inscriptions lend a particularly corporeal weight to Sassoon's eulogy for "The unreturning army that was youth / The legions who have suffered and are dust." And, as Freeman notes one Canadian chaplain reflecting in a post-war sermon, "those who had the most to teach were least likely to come home." (p. 105)

Though books of the nature of Freeman's often end up being superficial spatterings of anecdotes, here we find no awkward discourse or digressions. This erudite book proves flawlessly organized. The Ordnance Survey maps included are very detailed, giving a near human face to the landscape. Freeman, an English school teacher, has indeed done her research through libraries and records centers, checking her details with such institutions as the Royal Military Academy, Sandhurst, The Public Records Office, and the Commonwealth War Graves Commission. The impressive photos are from the archives of the Imperial War Museum. These elegiac vistas are among the most haunting photographs ever taken in wartime. Here we see men reflected in firelight and silhouetted against sunrises, the 'thousand year' stare of a soldier whose body would never be found, and an unknown soldier's muddy grave marked by a fragile wooden cross in the sodden mire, graphically depicting war's redoubled insults.

Unlike Freeman's work, Tonie and Valmai Holt's, Poets of the Great War examines in some depth the personal, social and literary lives of twenty-four soldier-poets and one female nurse -- before, during, and sometimes after the war. The Holts tap 80-plus sources, many of them rare and out-of-print, which form the sinews of their book. By including the brief chapter, 'The War The Poets Knew', the reader may historically situate the wartime experience of these poets. Although several biographical issues are examined, the salient features of their lives are their literary backgrounds. Despite the admittedly subjective nature of the Holts' selection the poets they included in this volume remain a worthwhile study, an excellent introduction for layman and professional reader alike. Many of the poems are nearly discovered for the first time, having rarely appeared in standard anthologies. For all, the war would script its own ineluctable transformations, as they would come to echo fellow poet Charles Sorley's words,

Across my past imaginings
has dropped a blindness silent and slow

As the Holts' study bears out, there were weighty and often paradoxical burdens lurking beneath the surface of these poets' lives, as several examples illustrate. We see Canadian surgeon Lt. Colonel John Macrae, author of the celebrated "In Flanders Fields," tormented by survivor's guilt just before his death from pneumonia and meningitis. Charles Sorely, whom contemporary Poet Laureate John Masefield stated had the potential for becoming Britain's greatest dramatist since Shakespeare, began the war with intensely pro-German sentiments. It was this twenty-year old soldier who penned the magnificent sonnet which will forever haunt the war poetry of all ages:

When you see millions of the mouthless dead
Across your dreams in pale battalions go

We also find men like The Honorable Julian Grenfell, descended from a long aristocratic line of military officers. With a clinically unbalanced mind, he didn't play his role. Suffocating in the elitist air of his surroundings, he penned sarcastic verses praying that his un-blooded staff officers would be spared the horrors of battle. There is Edward Thomas, an Edwardian poet of dreamy images of quiet English countrysides, who cryptically found in the war-torn earth that "silence, told me truths I had not dreamed of." Meanwhile, the celebrated Alan Seeger, that rare American soldier-poet who served in the French Foreign Legion, fell prey to the presentiment of his own vainglorious verse, "I have a rendezvous with death / At some disputed barricade."

Though many of the poets included in this anthology were schooled at institutions like Oxford or Eton, John William Streets was a non-commissioned officer with only an elementary school education, though he taught himself Latin, Greek, and French. A writer of love poems, Streets would turn his attention from romance to his comrades lying in the "unmarked shrines" of No Man's Land: "There lie the flower of youth / Across their graves flowerless and unadorned / Still scream the shells of each artillery."

Compare these lines with Private Isaac Rosenberg's haunting metaphors describing the piercing silence immediately preceding an anticipated bombardment from German artillery

Death could easily drop from the dark
As easily as song
But song only dropped,
Like a blind man's dreams on sand
By dangerous tides,
Like a girl's dark hair for she dreams no ruin lies there,
Or her kisses where a serpent hides.

In these lines one can almost hear the echoes of Poe and Coleridge, poets who influenced the mind of this young poet-artist in the years before the war. The only woman in Holts' study is the extraordinary Vera Brittain. Leaving her studies at Oxford in 1915, she became a nurse. Serving in both Italian and French theaters, the war would bring her news that her brother, fiance, and two closest friends were killed in battle. Several of her fellow nurses were also killed in an air raid at Etaples. Particularly distressed by men who had undergone chemical attacks, seeing them fight for each breath, her poetry spoke of the eyes which battle sealed in sleep. Her monumental book, Testament of Youth, is one of the most enduring memoirs to come out of the war. Though rarely included in anthologies, we find chaplain-poet Geoffrey Kennedy, known for his strong lines of rhythm and passion. Though Kennedy often wrote religious verse, his commanding general dismissed him from his post as chaplain of the British Second Army for voicing doubts about the existence of God. Often risking his life to rescue the wounded lying in No Man's Land, his faith in God wavered under the withering fire of enemy machine guns:

And that night I'd been in the trenches,
Seeking out the sodden dead,
And just dropping them in shell-holes,
With a service swiftly said
But I couldn't leave them there,
Water-soaked in flooded shell holes,
Reft of common Christian prayer
Just a blacker lump of blackness,
With a red blotch on his hair.

Yet loss of faith was common in a war which another soldier-poet, Edmund Blunden, described as "a simulacrum of divine aberration." In his later poem, Dead and Buried, Kennedy prophetically criticized the terms of the Treaty of Versailles. We also witness the mysterious Ivor Gurney, a poet who survived the war but died insane in 1937. In one of the war's terrible ironies, it was his insanity that gave such lucidity to his poems where we see how the raw violence in the death of comrades affected him deeply:

Cover him, cover him soon!
And with thick-set
Masses of memorial flowers
Hide that red wet
Thing I must somehow forget.

These are but a few of the illimitable aphorisms of duty, loss, and transience buried in the twenty-four biographies and poetry of the men coming under Holts' study. These are little-known undercurrents which Sassoon exposes in Suicide in The Trenches,

You smug-faced crowds with kindling eye
Who cheer when soldier lads march by,
Sneak home and pray you'll never know
The hell where youth and laughter go.

Thus, the experiences of these eminently competent writers indict with an irony of tragic grandeur Wordsworth's high romantic query, "Who is the happy Warrior? Who is he/That every man in arms should wish to be?" As such, most avoid on one hand the Kipling-esque chauvinism of the late Victorian and early Edwardian era, and the more radical -- albeit polemically justified-- aesthetic pacifism exemplified by AE Housman and DH Lawrence on the other.

Those who expected non-Commonwealth or non-English speaking poets in the Holts' study will be somewhat disappointed, and perhaps the title of the book is slightly amiss. In addition, there is only one female represented, Vera Brittain. The Holts could have included a few more voices from women with direct experience with the war, such as Mary Henderson or Carola Oman. Fortunately, there are excellent and accessible anthologies in print which include works by other than Commonwealth poets. Overall, both books incorporate original research, resisting the temptation to simply rehash older secondary sources.

Both books keenly underscore a need to pursue study of the literature of the First World War. As Freeman states, "The Great War provides a unique source of inspiration in reflecting the validity and sincerity of ordinary men's achievements under the impediment of the most unfavorably recalcitrant circumstances." (p. 109). Thus, readers find their way into what Nobel Laureate Octavio Paz called "those immeasurable realities which connected the reader with the poets' immense transpersonal realm" (Octavio Paz, The Other Voice, 1990; p. 78). Here we find some of the most powerfully emotive and enduring literature ever penned in the English language, underscoring Samuel Johnson's belief that the chief glory of any people arises from its authors. To say that these books are recommended for the professional reader would be this reviewer's greatest understatement. Perhaps in a small way they will keep us from repeating the twentieth century's long march into forgetfulness.

Note: For critical studies readers may wish to consult English Poetry of the First World War; a Study in the Evolution of Lyric and Narrative Form by Johnston (1964), or The Price of Pity: Poetry, History and Myth in the Great War by Martin Stephen (1996). For an excellent study of women's poetry during this era, see Nosheen Khan, Women's Poetry of the First World War (1988).

My Hiroshima, A Personal Epic
by Richard J. Schoeck
The Edwin Mellen Press, Ltd., Lewiston, 1997
New York and Queenston, Ontario
$14.95. Paperback, 92 pages.

Reviewed by Major Jeffrey C. Alfier

Richard J. Schoeck is a soldier-poet who has penned an enduring epic poem, eloquently written in the rich language of lyric form. From his rare perspective as English professor and World War II-era veteran, Schoeck's poetic inquiry takes the reader on a disquieting journey into the bombing of Hiroshima.

Throughout his narrative he has interwoven the wisdom of Classical historians, philosophers, religious thinkers, poets, and even nuclear physicists such as Oppenheimer, whom he knew personally. Schoeck, however, is not simply romancing the ancient literary form of Homer, Beowulf, or Vergil, or engaging in an exercise of scholasticism. With both compassion and intellection, he has used the medium of these ancients to give us a refreshing gift of veridical wisdom.

Out of this philosophical and intellectual framework, Schoeck reminds us that at the dawn of the atomic age, great men of high military, political, and scientific position, often disagreed over the decision to drop the atomic bomb.

In the end, this decision was possibly carried out for political expediency at the expense of democracy, reason, and human compassion. Hence, Schoeck throws into bold relief poignant questions over the efficacy of bombing population centers having no military or political value. In the bombing of Hiroshima -- as in Dresden, Germany -- the lines of communication were so bad that the desired effect of amplifying disenchantment with the militaristic leadership went for naught. Thousands died needlessly in a legacy of "blinding, maiming, burning, vaporizing."

In the nuclear age, man has abused, in ultimate fashion, the original flame stolen from behind the back of Zeus. Schoeck does not disparage the undertones of Augustinian or Thomastic causus belli, but instead offers a balance in ethical accountability. He goes beyond Hiroshima to speak to the greater realms of conscience and moral obligations of scientists and governments alike.

In words the world can little afford to ignore, Schoeck's verses examines our national memory amidst the wider, provisional hinges of human fate.


Jeffrey C. Alfier

Major Jeffrey C. Alfier, US Air Force, is an EC-130 battle staff operations officer assigned to Davis-Monthan AFB, Arizona. He received a BA from the University of Maryland, and an MA from California State University. He has served in a variety of operational and staff positions in the United States and Europe. A published poet, he has contributed to several professional and literary journals, served as an adjunct faculty member for City Colleges of Chicago's European Division, and holds membership in the Society for Historians of American Foreign Relations.

Scott Edward Anderson

Scott Edward Anderson received the 1997 Nebraska Review Award and the 1998 Larry Aldrich Emerging Poets award. Read his full bio and selected poems.


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