Four Articles and a Poem

11:24 AM

Weekly, I post four articles that I found significant and a poem. Our lives are enriched by seeing better. Each week, one article comes from the world of photography, a discipline that is about seeing. Another article comes from the world of technology, hence seeing something of the future. Another article takes up an aspect of our life together, seeing more clearly the other. Another article refers to faith, seeing the unseen. Finally, the weekly post concludes with a poem, because poetry is about seeing words whose arrangement allows us to see anew.

In a week filled with much news-making controversy, let's try to see some fundamentals. First, let's look at a graph about patents. Second, let's examine the government's investment in higher education and what it means for us. Then, let us see some images from a photographer who has documented migration for years. Fourth, let's take a deeper look at Pope Francis' visit to the U.S. Finally, our poetry re-visits a classic that many readers may already know.
  1. Which countries file the most patent applications? I am proud that a brother-in-law recently filed his first patent. The patent suggests a great deal about the status of innovation. This simple statistic and chart reveals the current world climate. We have a lot of work to do.
  2. Is It Time to Tax Harvard’s Endowment? Education is a hot topic right now. Amid the opinions regarding an arrested clock-making student, Slate magazine poses an interesting question about education. I have long thought that our U.S. model of education is unsustainable for the long-term. Certain institutions, like the one that educated me, have built enormous endowments alongside massive construction and hiring projects, accompanied by gargantuan tuition increases (interesting cost data across public and private universities is available here). While not popular, I have said since the early 1990s that, for every square-foot of new construction, a university ought to take one out. Otherwise, the fixed costs associated with energy, maintenance, and staffing only climb. Back before I was born, my university had classes six days a week. It had declined to five by my era. Now, I hear that classes now are Monday to Thursday. The 8 a.m. class is a thing of the past. Consequently, the university needs more classrooms-- not because there are more students, but because the classrooms are concurrently used. In fact, the classrooms are vacant many more hours weekly then ever before. Jordan Weissman argues that, amid growing economic inequality, "we seem to have stumbled into a system that disproportionately subsidizes the educations of a tiny few." Weissman's piece is more nuanced than the Politico or Washington Post articles on the same research. I think that he raises important questions about public support (through tax-free endowments and tax credits and deductions for the donors) for exclusive, private universities, relative their impact on growing inequality. The U.S. is fortunate to have many of the world's finest universities, and, no doubt, these endowments contribute to that climate, but we must also have a serious national conversation about access to university education and the finance of that education between private, public, and for-profit institutions. For another examination of the issue from the perspective of the student, see Anthony Abraham Jack's What the Privileged Poor Can Teach Us.
  3. John Moore has an amazing collection of photos concerning migration. Moore is a senior staff photographer for Getty Images based in New York. Moore began his international career with the Associated Press. The Atlantic, Getty, and Slate have featured his work on immigrants. During almost 14 years with the AP, he was based in Nicaragua, India, South Africa, Mexico and Egypt, and photographed in more than 80 countries on five continents. Since the attacks of September 11, 2001, Moore has extensively covered the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, covering the US and British military in some of the world’s most dangerous combat zones. Since joining Getty Images in 2005, Moore has worked throughout South Asia, Africa and the Middle East, covering the Israel-Lebanon conflict of 2006. Moore has won photography awards from the Overseas Press Club, The Society of Professional Journalists, and World Press. He was also on a team that won the 2005 Pulitzer Prize for Breaking News Photography for their coverage of the war in Iraq. After the moving photo of Aylan Kurdi, the three-year-old Syrian boy washed up on a Turkish beach, I'd like to keep the face of immigrants and refugees before us as Pope Francis soon visits this land.
  4. The Shadow of Peter. Soon, the Holy Father's plane will touch down in Habana. Thereafter, he will arrive in the United States. To be honest, much of the coverage will be inept, inarticulate, and inane. There are a few trusted sources like Crux and John L. Allen. Rocco Palmo will also share the full texts and thoughtful analysis of Pope Francis' visit on his website, Whispers in the Loggia.

Our poetry this week is a classic, "The Hound of Heaven," from Francis Thompson. Published in 1893, this poem speaks of the relationship between the soul and God. This is a poem that I have treasured since Fr. Peter Mueller, C.S.C. first directed me to it as an undergraduate.

"The Hound of Heaven"
by Francis Thompson

I fled Him, down the nights and down the days;
   I fled Him, down the arches of the years;
I fled Him, down the labyrinthine ways
   Of my own mind; and in the midst of tears
I hid from Him, and under running laughter.
             Up vistaed hopes I sped;
             And shot, precipitated,
Adown Titanic glooms of chasmed fears,
   From those strong Feet that followed, followed after.
             But with unhurrying chase,
             And unperturbèd pace,
     Deliberate speed, majestic instancy,
             They beat—and a Voice beat
             More instant than the Feet—
     'All things betray thee, who betrayest Me'.
             I pleaded, outlaw-wise,
By many a hearted casement, curtained red,
   Trellised with intertwining charities;
(For, though I knew His love Who followed,
             Yet was I sore adread
Lest, having Him, I must have naught beside.)
But, if one little casement parted wide,
   The gust of His approach would clash it to:
   Fear wist not to evade, as Love wist to pursue.
Across the margent of the world I fled,
   And troubled the gold gateway of the stars,
   Smiting for shelter on their clanged bars;
             Fretted to dulcet jars
And silvern chatter the pale ports o' the moon.
I said to Dawn: Be sudden—to Eve: Be soon;
   With thy young skiey blossom heap me over
             From this tremendous Lover—
Float thy vague veil about me, lest He see!
   I tempted all His servitors, but to find
My own betrayal in their constancy,
In faith to Him their fickleness to me,
   Their traitorous trueness, and their loyal deceit.
To all swift things for swiftness did I sue;
   Clung to the whistling mane of every wind.
          But whether they swept, smoothly fleet,
     The long savannahs of the blue;
            Or, whether, Thunder-driven,
          They clanged his chariot 'thwart a heaven,
Plashy with flying lightnings round the spurn o' their feet:—
   Fear wist not to evade as Love wist to pursue.
             Still with unhurrying chase,
             And unperturbed pace,
      Deliberate speed, majestic instancy,
             Came on the following Feet,
             And a Voice above their beat—
'Naught shelters thee, who wilt not shelter Me.'
I sought no more after that which I strayed
          In face of man or maid;
But still within the little children's eyes
          Seems something, something that replies,
They at least are for me, surely for me!
I turned me to them very wistfully;
But just as their young eyes grew sudden fair
         With dawning answers there,
Their angel plucked them from me by the hair.
Come then, ye other children, Nature's—share
With me’ (said I) 'your delicate fellowship;
          Let me greet you lip to lip,
          Let me twine with you caresses,
              Wantoning
          With our Lady-Mother's vagrant tresses,
             Banqueting
          With her in her wind-walled palace,
          Underneath her azured dais,
          Quaffing, as your taintless way is,
             From a chalice
Lucent-weeping out of the dayspring.’
             So it was done:
I in their delicate fellowship was one—
Drew the bolt of Nature's secrecies.
          I knew all the swift importings
          On the wilful face of skies;
           I knew how the clouds arise
          Spumèd of the wild sea-snortings;
             All that's born or dies
          Rose and drooped with; made them shapers
Of mine own moods, or wailful divine;
          With them joyed and was bereaven.
          I was heavy with the even,
          When she lit her glimmering tapers
          Round the day's dead sanctities.
          I laughed in the morning's eyes.
I triumphed and I saddened with all weather,
          Heaven and I wept together,
And its sweet tears were salt with mortal mine:
Against the red throb of its sunset-heart
          I laid my own to beat,
          And share commingling heat;
But not by that, by that, was eased my human smart.
In vain my tears were wet on Heaven's grey cheek.
For ah! we know not what each other says,
          These things and I; in sound I speak—
Their sound is but their stir, they speak by silences.
Nature, poor stepdame, cannot slake my drouth;
          Let her, if she would owe me,
Drop yon blue bosom-veil of sky, and show me
          The breasts o’ her tenderness:
Never did any milk of hers once bless
             My thirsting mouth.
             Nigh and nigh draws the chase,
             With unperturbed pace,
Deliberate speed, majestic instancy;
             And past those noisèd Feet
             A voice comes yet more fleet
         
'Lo! naught contents thee, who content'st not Me.'
Naked I wait Thy love's uplifted stroke!
My harness piece by piece Thou has hewn from me,
             And smitten me to my knee;
          I am defenceless utterly.
          I slept, methinks, and woke,
And, slowly gazing, find me stripped in sleep.
In the rash lustihead of my young powers,
          I shook the pillaring hours
And pulled my life upon me; grimed with smears,
I stand amidst the dust o' the mounded years
My mangled youth lies dead beneath the heap.
My days have crackled and gone up in smoke,
Have puffed and burst as sun-starts on a stream.
          Yea, faileth now even dream
The dreamer, and the lute the lutanist;
Even the linked fantasies, in whose blossomy twist
I swung the earth a trinket at my wrist,
Are yielding; cords of all too weak account
For earth with heavy griefs so overplussed.
          Ah! is Thy love indeed
A weed, albeit an amarinthine weed,
Suffering no flowers except its own to mount?
          Ah! must
         
Designer infinite!
Ah! must Thou char the wood ere Thou canst limn with it?
My freshness spent its wavering shower i' the dust;
And now my heart is as a broken fount,
Wherein tear-drippings stagnate, spilt down ever
          From the dank thoughts that shiver
Upon the sighful branches of my mind.
          Such is; what is to be?
The pulp so bitter, how shall taste the rind?
I dimly guess what Time in mists confounds;
Yet ever and anon a trumpet sounds
From the hid battlements of Eternity;
Those shaken mists a space unsettle, then
Round the half-glimpsed turrets slowly wash again.
          But not ere him who summoneth
          I first have seen, enwound
With glooming robes purpureal, cypress-crowned;
His name I know and what his trumpet saith.
Whether man's heart or life it be which yields
          Thee harvest, must Thy harvest-fields
          Be dunged with rotten death?
             Now of that long pursuit
             Comes on at hand the bruit;
          That Voice is round me like a bursting sea:
          'And is thy earth so marred,
          Shattered in shard on shard?
          Lo, all things fly thee, for thou fliest Me!

          'Strange, piteous, futile thing!
Wherefore should any set thee love apart?
Seeing none but I makes much of naught' (He said),
'And human love needs human meriting:
          How hast thou merited
Of all man's clotted clay the dingiest clot?
          Alack, thou knowest not
How little worthy of any love thou art!
Whom wilt thou find to love ignoble thee,
          Save Me, save only Me?
All which I took from thee I did but take,
          Not for thy harms,
But just that thou might'st seek it in My arms.
          All which thy child's mistake
Fancies as lost, I have stored for thee at home:
          Rise, clasp My hand, and come!'
   Halts by me that footfall:
   Is my gloom, after all,
Shade of His hand, outstretched caressingly?
   'Ah, fondest, blindest, weakest,
   I am He Whom thou seekest!
Thou dravest love from thee, who dravest Me.'

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