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November 20, 2000 Issue

  • Columns

  • For Whom the Gong Tolls

    If you stand in Tiananmen Square and keep your eyes open on a normal day, you will see the tour groups with their "keep together" flags, and the long line waiting to see the mummified Mao in his mausoleum, and the crowd around the entrance to the Forbidden City. Souvenir salesmen ply their trade where once the students massed around the Goddess of Democracy. And then you notice the militia vans endlessly circling, and the buses parked off to one side. It's a big space to police, and its vast openness makes it impossible to close off. Every few days, a group of supporters of the Falun Gong movement will suddenly unfurl their banners and wave them until the forces of order arrive, sweep them up and carry them away.

    Christopher Hitchens

  • Nader Voters: An Explanation

    They thought they'd vote the Democratic slate,
    But somehow felt they needed something more.
    They finally found a candidate who was
    More sanctimonious than Albert Gore.

    Calvin Trillin

  • Books and the Arts

  • Seducing the Sparrow (poem)

    Why must the noble rose
    bristle before it blooms, and why
    must the frost declare
    allegiance to the dew?

    Don't tell me the robin's
    forlorn invitation
    could not be denied.
    I've heard the magpie's lies.

    Outside my window,
    twenty-seven juncos
    consort in a cedar tree,
    fat and happy to be free

    of all desire--ah, but
    that's not true! See
    how they dance and turn
    when I throw out the seed.

    Sam Hamill

  • Green Bee

    It was curled on the pavement, forehead to knees,
    as if it had died while bowing. Its stripes
    were citrine-yellow, and the black of a moonless
    starless, clear night. It did not
    belong on a street, to be stepped on, I picked it
    up in a fold of glove, and in the taxi
    canted it onto a floral hankie,
    a small, thin, cotton death-glade--
    and the bee moved, one foreleg,
    like an arm, feebly, as if old. It seemed
    not long for this world, and it seemed I could not
    save it, and had been saved, by its gesture,
    from smothering it all day in my bag. I would have
    liked to set it in a real glade,
    but I thought that it might still, right now,
    be suffering, yet I could not kill it
    directly--I shook it, from the hankie, out the window,
    onto West End Avenue,
    hoping that, before a tire
    killed it, instantly, it would hear
    and feel huge rushes of tread and wind,
    like flight, like the bee-god's escape.

    Sharon Olds

  • America and the World: The End of Easy Dominance

    In the more trying period ahead, a modest internationalism would fare best.

    Sherle R. Schwenninger

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