COMMENDABLESnOn Politics and PoetrynRussell Kirk: Reclaiming a Patrimony;nThe Heritage Foundation;nWashington, D.C.nSince publishing his landmarknwork The ConservativenMind in 1953, Dr. Russell Kirknhas done so much through hisnwriting, editing, and lecturingnto define and enrich the conservativenintellectual movementnthat any work appearing undernhis authorship commandsnnotice. In the case oiRec/aimingna Patrimony such attention isnwell rewarded. This is not, ofncourse, to say that this slendernvolume should be ranked withnDr. Kirk’s E/iot and His Age ornhis The Roots of AmericannOrder. As a collection of tennrelatively short lectures (nonenlonger than 13 pages) deliverednon a variety of different occasions,nit shares the limitations ofnother such compilations: unity isnachieved primarily through thenpersistence of the author’s rhetoricalnand philosophical ethos,nnot through any systematicallyndeveloped thematic structuren(“desultory fishing in manynJoNessHcss in Americanwaters,” Dr. Kirk calls it);nthorough rigorousness of detailngives way to the suggestive brevitynof generalization; anecdotenand digression occasionallyntempt the lecturer away from hisnmain point. Nonetheless, Reclaimingndoes evince many ofnthose qualities of mind andnspirit which have made Dr. Kirknan informing force in the currentnattempt to renew “the patrimonynof order and culture thatnAmericans have inherited.”nIn his analyses of the tensionsnbetween Church and State, ofnthe deplorable current state ofnhumane letters, of the real mercynin capital punishment, of thenarbitrary tendencies of teachers’nunions, of Reagan’s capacity fornrefreshing audacity, and of fivenother topics. Dr. Kirk coversnsmall canvases with bold andnsure strokes. His wisdom is of thensententious sort possessed by thenthinker who is at home withnlarge conceptions, and his gracefulnstyle is that of the scholar whonwears his learning without affectation.n”To perceive truth,” Dr.nKirk begins his lecture on capitalnVillage Voice sent oui a repunc-r rticinly uj uci so;nc firsthandninformation i)i) employment opportunities in andnaround NYC. Posing as a semiskilled bliie-iollar worker, fhenreporter was unable rn (ind aiiyrliing- iliai is, anyihlng iharnmet his standards. I If set Sfv^O per hour a-: Ijii minimumnwage. In his week-long job hunr. he conversed ofieii with rcilnjob-seekers. Almost uniformly these iiiiemployid had refii.sednwork that was offered: it was too hard, londirtv. or, most important,nit paid too little, .’^aid one: “I could start tomorrow,nbut I’m not going to. They’re paying S I’JO a week.” Let “s see,nthat’s $760 a month; a McDonald’s hamburger 19 u-nt.s,nchicken is about 59cenrs:i pound … (KW) ‘npunishment, “we require images”;nor, as he puts it in hisncomments on Reagan: “Allntruth lies in poetry.” His vaticinationsnon Reagan’s commitmentnto conviction rather thannexpedience already seem lessnthan fiiUy accurate, but his discussionnof imaginative audacitynas a critical need for any conservativenleader makes the Reagannof his lecture a worthwhile symbolnin his own right. Not manynpeople read Burke to learn aboutnthe events of the French Revolutionnnowadays, but thousandsnare still refreshed by the moralnand creative strength of his Reflectionsnoccasioned by that conflagration.nTwo centuries afternRonald Reagan and the mid-n20th-century conservative resurgencenthat made him President,nit seems at least possible that Dr.nKirk’s writings may enjoy a similarnreadership. (BC) DnHigh CelebrationsnWilliam F. Bvi