O. B. Hardison

Love Among the Ruins

Volume 16:1, January 2015
Sonnet Issue

Love Among the Ruins

As sure as reason is a double-cross
And truth the sum of infinite small lies
And thinking little gain and greater loss
And all our questions answers in disguise;

As sure as judgment is the judge’s fraud
And reason pardons all it understands
And Christ will always bless the sorry bawd
And jesting Pilate always wash his hands;

As sure as we are baffled by the past
And cannot crack the case that cracks the age
And from the first transgression to the last
The father’s sin outlives the grandson’s rage;

As sure as death and taxes and hard times,
O, I will love you to the end of rhymes.


Reprinted from Poets of Today (Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1958), with permission from Marifrances Hardison.


O.B. Hardison Jr. (October 18, 1928—August 5, 1990) is the author of two books of poems, Pro Musica Antiqua (1977) and Lyrics and Elegies (1958), as well as a number of scholarly books, such as Christian Rite and Christian Drama in the Middle Ages (1965), Toward Freedom and Dignity: The Humanities and the Idea of Humanity (1972), Entering the Maze: Identity and Change in Modern Culture (1982), Prosody and Purpose in the English Renaissance (1989) and Disappearing Through the Skylight: Culture and Technology in the Twentieth Century (1989). While professor of English and comparative literature at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Hardison was featured in Time Magazine as one of the country’s greatest teachers. He also taught at Princeton and Georgetown Universities. Hardison moved to DC to serve as director of the Folger Shakespeare Library from 1969 to 1983. Under his tenure, he originated such programs as the Folger Poetry Series, the Folger Theatre, the Folger Consort, the Folger Institute, and educational programs for students in grades K through 12. He raised the funds to expand and renovate the Folger Library, which included the introduction of advanced temperature and humidity controls for the rare books collection. He and his wife raised four daughters and two sons. To read more about this poet: Merrill Leffler on O.B. Hardison, Jr.: The Memorial Issue