scions program (again, particularly inrnwhat became the United States) to beginrnthe human experiment over again, to creaternnot just a new world but a new man, arnnew imiverse, and a new metaphysic torngo with them —the Americas, almostrnfrom the time of first settlement, influencedrnthe old Western world more thanrnit influenced them, no matter thatrnDescartes lived in France and JohnrnLocke in England. (Here I am thinkingrnnot, for instance, of the concept of thernNoble Savage, which after all was a productionrnof the European mind, not thatrnof American colonials besieged by savages,rnbut something far more profound,rnor anyway ineffable.) The agenda of thernNew World, concerned as these werernwith discovering wealth or freedom of everyrnsort almost beyond the Europeanrnimagination, have all been part of an attemptrnto escape the condition of beingrnhuman—an urge never characteristic ofrnthe older culture of the West, whichrnaimed firstly at salvation, secondly at arnworldly catholicity of experience, intellectualrnand otherwise, that made it whatrnBarzun terms a mongrel civilization parrnexcellence. Perhaps the clearest, or atrnleast the most dramatic, way to conceivernof the relation is in dialectical terms: thernOld World Thesis confronted by its offspring,rnthe New World Antithesis, whosernreconciliation is the Synthesis —identifiedrnhere as Decadence.rnThis is the unwritten history thatrnBarzun’s most enjoyable consideration ofrnthe modern era brought up to me. It is alsornthe history of the half-millenniumrn1500-2000 that I would write, if only Irnhad one-tenth the learning, the courage,rnand the stamina that Jacques Barzun,rnaetat. 93, still enjoys.rnChilton Williamson, Jr., is the seniorrneditor for books at Chronicles.rnObscurely Called:rnRichard Wilburrnat Eightyrnby Alan SullivanrnMayflies:rnNew Poems and Translationsrnby Richard WilburrnNew York: Harcourt Brace;rn80 pp., $22.00rnNow nearly 80 years of age, RichardrnWilbur has recently publishedrnMayflies, a new book of poems and translations.rnThis slim volume has attractedrnslight—and sometimes slighting—noticernin most literary publications. America’srnpoetry establishment does not quiternknow what to make of its former poet laureate.rnFor half a century, this eminentrntranslator of 17th- and 18th-centurvrnFrench plays has persisted in writingrnmeasured yet passionate religious versernin the manner of Donne or Herbert.rnFrom his first book of poems. The BeautifulrnChanges, published in 1947, Wilburrnhas chronicled the permutations of an often-rnchallenged yet resilient faith. Considerrnthis earlv sonnet, “Praise in Sum-rnObscurely yet most surely called tornpraise.rnAs summer sometimes calls us all, 1rnsaidrnThe hills are heavens full ofrnbranching waysrnWliere star-nosed moles fly overheadrnthe dead;rnI said the trees are mines in air, IrnsaidrnSee how the sparrow burrows inrnthe sky!rnAnd then I wondered why this madrninsteadrnPerverts our praise to uncreation,rnwhyrnSuch savors in this wrenchingrnthings awr’.rnDoes sense so stale that it mustrnneeds derangernThe world to know it? ‘I’o a praisefulrneyernShould it not be enough of freshrnand strangernThat trees grow green, and molesrncan course in clay,rnAnd sparrows sweep the ceilings ofrnour dav?rn”The college education I never had.”rnThat’s how more than one reader has described Chronicles: A Magazine of American Culture.rnChronicles makes an ideal graduation gift, both for the student about to enter college and the onernembarking on his career. And right now, when you give a gift subscription to someone else at ourrnspecial introductory rate of only $19, you can renew your own subscription for only $28 ($11 off ofrnour normal rate). So do the student in your life a favor-and save some money as well.rnPlease enter the following gift subscription.rnSend Chronicles as my gift to: Your information:rnâ„¢J[rnName NamernAddr. AddressrnCity/State/Zip City/State/Ziprn• I have entered a gift subscription for $19.rnPlease renew my subscription at the low rate of $28.rn(I have enclosed a check for $47.)rnTo order by credit card, please call irn1-800-877-5459rnPlease make check payable to Chronicles: A Magazine of American Culture,rnP.O. Box 800, Mount Morris, IL 61054rnSEPTEMBER 2000/27rnrnrn