Pantocrator Lite by Anthony Esolen

Illuminations

Pantocrator Lite

Whenever I write about the bad poetry or the un-poetry of contemporary hymnals, someone inevitably will call me an "elitist." The charge is strange. I have spent all my adult life bringing the beauty and glory and power of poetry to young people in college, urging them to remember that, until our own poor time, poetry was the universal human art—for the Inuit in his ice-hut on the Mackenzie delta just as for the pipe-smoking don on the banks of the River Cam.

I know one of the reasons for the charge. It is that nobody knows the art anymore. People who shrug at bad poems or un-poems in the hymnal would not shrug at silly or incompetent paintings on the walls of their churches—or on the walls of their homes, for that matter. They would not shrug at a bad violinist flaying a cat. Their eyes would cross and their ears would sting. But poetry appeals first to the eyes and ears of the mind, and theirs have never been awakened. People who call themselves poets are much to blame, writing doggerel and gibberish, as if it can't be poetry if it makes any sense.

THIS ARTICLE ONLY AVAILABLE TO SUBSCRIBERS.
FOR QUICK ACCESS:


Anthony Esolen is the author of over thirty books, including Real Music: A Guide to the Timeless Hymns of the Church (Tan, with a CD), Out of the Ashes: Rebuilding American Culture (Regnery), and The Hundredfold: Songs for the Lord (Ignatius). He has also translated Dante’s Divine Comedy (Random House). He and his wife Debra publish a web magazine, Word and Song (anthonyesolen.substack.com), on poetry, hymnody, language, classic films, and music. He is a senior editor of Touchstone.

Print &
Online Subscription

Get six issues (one year) of Touchstone PLUS full online access including pdf downloads for only $39.95. That's only $3.34 per month!

Online
Subscription

Get a one-year full-access subscription to the Touchstone online archives for only $19.95. That's only $1.66 per month!

bulk subscriptions

Order Touchstone subscriptions in bulk and save $10 per sub! Each subscription includes 6 issues of Touchstone plus full online access to touchstonemag.com—including archives, videos, and pdf downloads of recent issues for only $29.95 each! Great for churches or study groups.

Transactions will be processed on a secure server.


more on poetry from the online archives


more from the online archives

31.4—July/August 2018

Listening to Eve

on the Brevity & Theology of Her Recorded Words by Judith Anderson

32.5—September/October 2019

Must Say No

on When Christians Can't Compromise by Joshua Steely

30.5—Sept/Oct 2017

The Age of Reformations

The Critical History Before, During & After Martin Luther by James Hitchcock

calling all readers

Please Donate

"There are magazines worth reading but few worth saving . . . Touchstone is just such a magazine."
—Alice von Hildebrand

"Here we do not concede one square millimeter of territory to falsehood, folly, contemporary sentimentality, or fashion. We speak the truth, and let God be our judge. . . . Touchstone is the one committedly Christian conservative journal."
—Anthony Esolen, Touchstone senior editor

Support Touchstone

00