It is therefore of the utmost importance that those who have any intention of deviating from the beaten roads of life, and requiring a reputation superior to names hourly swept away by time among the refuse of fame, should add to their reason, and their spirit, the power of persisting in their purposes; acquire the art of sapping what they cannot batter, and the habit of vanquishing obstinate resistance by obstinate attacks.


~ Samuel Johnson, born on this day in 1709


Portrait of Samuel Johnson by Joshua Reynolds, 1775 Johnson's "A Dictionary of the English Language" was published in 1755 and has been described as "one of the greatest single achievements of scholarship."

Portrait of Samuel Johnson by Joshua Reynolds, 1775.  Johnson’s “A Dictionary of the English Language” was published in 1755 and has been described as “one of the greatest single achievements of scholarship.”

End of Summer

An agitation of the air,

A perturbation of the light

Admonished me the unloved year

Would turn on its hinge that night.


I stood in the disenchanted field

Amid the stubble and the stones,

Amazed, while a small worm lisped to me

The song of my marrow-bones.


Blue poured into summer blue,

A hawk broke from his cloudless tower,

The roof of the silo blazed, and I knew

That part of my life was over.


Already the iron door of the north

Clangs open: birds, leaves, snows

Order their populations forth,

And a cruel wind blows.


~ Stanley Kunitz


Caspar David Friedrich, circa 1830

Caspar David Friedrich, circa 1830



My Ambition

is to become a footnote

in a learned work of the


22nd century   not just a

“cf” or a “see” but a sol-


id note such as Raby gives

Walafrid Straho in Christ-


ian Latin Poetry or Ernst

Robert Curtius (the most


erudite German who ever

lived) devotes to Alber-


tino Mussato in his Euro-

päische Literatur und La-


teinisches Mittelalter   I

hope the scholar of the


22nd will lick his schol-

arly lips when he finds me


in some forgotten source

(perhaps the Obloquies of


Dreadful Edward Dahlberg)

and think here is an odd-

ball I would have liked,

immortalizing me in six


turgid lines of footnote.


~ James Laughlin


"Daydreams" by Thomas Couture, 1859

“Daydreams” by Thomas Couture, 1859

The prestigious Narrative Fall 2016 Story Contest is currently accepting fiction and nonfiction submissions through the deadline of November 30.  For this award, the journal is seeking short shorts, short stories, essays, memoirs, photo essays, graphic stories, all forms of literary nonfiction, and excerpts from longer works of both fiction and nonfiction.  Entries must be unpublished, not exceed 15,000 words, and not have been chosen previously as a winner, finalist, or honorable mention in another contest.

A prize of $2,500 will be awarded to the winner, with prizes of $1,000 and $500 awarded to the second and third place winners, respectively.  An additional ten finalists will receive $100 each, and all entries will be considered for publication.  All entries are also eligible for the $4,000 Narrative Prize and acceptance as a Story of the Week.

Prior winners and finalists in Narrative contests have gone on to be recognized in prize collections, including The Pushcart Prize – Best of the Small Presses series, The Best American Short Stories anthologies, the Atlantic Book Awards, and others.

For more information and to submit online, visit the website at http://www.narrativemagazine.com/fall-2016-story-contest.



September Midnight

Lyric night of the lingering Indian Summer,

Shadowy fields that are scentless but full of singing,

Never a bird, but the passionless chant of insects,

Ceaseless, insistent.


The grasshopper’s horn, and far-off, high in the maples,

The wheel of a locust leisurely grinding the silence

Under a moon waning and worn, broken,

Tired with summer.


Let me remember you, voices of little insects,

Weeds in the moonlight, fields that are tangled with asters,

Let me remember, soon will the winter be on us,

Snow-hushed and heavy.


Over my soul murmur your mute benediction,

While I gaze, O fields that rest after harvest,

As those who part look long in the eyes they lean to,

Lest they forget them.


                                                             ~ Sara Teasdale


"A Moonlit Evening" by John Atkinson Grimshaw, 1880

“A Moonlit Evening” by John Atkinson Grimshaw, 1880

As I prepare the various components of my doctoral application package, it seems fitting that I should once again post this passage by Mary Shelley, born on this day in 1797.


I cannot describe to you my sensations on the near prospect of my undertaking.  It is impossible to communicate to you a conception of the trembling sensation, half pleasurable and half fearful, with which I am preparing to depart.  I am going to unexplored regions to ‘the land of mist and snow’ […].  You will smile at my allusion; but I will disclose a secret.  I have often attributed my attachment to, my passionate enthusiasm for, the dangerous mysteries of ocean, to that production of the most imaginative of modern poets.  There is something at work in my soul, which I do not understand.


Leonid Pasternak

Leonid Pasternak

Words can bang around in your head

Forever, if you let them and you give them room.

I used to love poetry, and mostly I still do,

Though sometimes “I, too, dislike it.” There must be

Something real beyond the fiddle and perfunctory

Consolations and the quarrels—as of course

There is, though what it is is difficult to say.

The salt is on the briar rose, the fog is in the fir trees.

I didn’t know what it was, and I don’t know now,

But it was what I started out to do, and now, a lifetime later,

All I’ve really done. The Opening of the Field,

Roots and Branches, Rivers and Mountains: I sat in my room

Alone, their fragments shored against the ruin or revelation

That was sure to come, breathing in their secret atmosphere,

Repeating them until they almost seemed my own.

We like to think our lives are what they study to become,

And yet so much of life is waiting, waiting on a whim.

So much of what we are is sheer coincidence,

Like a sentence whose significance is retrospective,

Made up out of elementary particles that are in some sense

Simply sounds, like syllables that finally settle into place.

You probably think that this is a poem about poetry

(And obviously it is), yet its real subject is time,

For that’s what poetry is—a way to live through time

And sometimes, just for a while, to bring it back.


~ From “Ninety-Fifth Street” by John Koethe


"Personification of Time in a Flower Garland" by Carstian Luyckx, 1650

“Personification of Time in a Flower Garland” by Carstian Luyckx, 1650

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