While I enjoy Chronicles immensely, a particular issue sometimes exceeds your high standards.

Timothy Murphy’s Horses For My Father (June) was, to my taste, the finest piece of American poetry of the last 50 years. The seventh stanza was particularly poignant because it evoked memories of my mother’s father, who farmed a quarter-section in Caldwell, Idaho, for 40 years. From him, I learned a fierce love for the Old Republic, and a reverence for books and learning. He also taught me to work complex mathematical problems with a framing square—as well as the art of rifle shooting with an .03 Springfield.

It was also a great treat to read Andrei Navrozov’s “The Avenging Deity as a Rational Projection of the Wounded Ego” (Views), which was so well written that my wife, who is not at all political, found it both cogent and profound. The merits of his “Letter From Venice: Up With Prejudice” (Correspondence) are so self-evident that they don’t need me to echo them. This feature is a positive luxury to read and a treat best enjoyed with a good cigar and a little Armagnac.

Lastly, let me add to the sentiments of another Chronicles reader who said that Chronicles was “the college education I never had.” Last month, I travelled to Massachusetts on business. While there, I was invited to dine at a good restaurant in Northhampton, the home of Smith College. After dinner, we went to a local college haunt for a nightcap and some conversation. It took all of ten minutes before the enemy was identified.

I was amazed at how easily a 40-year-old machinist with a public-high-school education, armed with a five-year running subscription to Chronicles, could demolish the arguments (both artistic and political) of an amalgamation of lesbians, Wiccans, and pierced and tattooed heathens with a composite million-dollars-worth of Ivy League education. On the way out the door, I had to remind their high priestess, a theater-arts major at Smith, that very little of worth had been penned for the stage in about 400 years, and that, for pure drama, Euripides Trojan Women was hard to beat—unless her tastes were more inclined to the Latin dramatists, in which case she would like Seneca’s Hecuba more. For good measure, I added that Maya Angelou was no Wordsworth, and that what Toni Morrison did should be called typing, not writing.

I was saddened, though, by the expression of amazement on the faces of my companions at hearing a commoner recite Keats and Shakespeare and show an interest in anything beyond the prosaic. It was the same expression one can imagine on the faces of savages being shown the use of a phosphorous-tipped match.

Thank you, again, for the opportunity to sit at the table with giants.

        —Monte Martinez,
Brigham City, UT