I used to think the power of words was inexhaustible,
That how we said the world
was how it was, and how it would be.
I used to imagine the word-sway and word-thunder
Would silence the Silence and all that,
That words were the Word,
That language could lead us inexplicably to grace,
As though it were geographical.
I used to think these things when I was young.
I still do.
—Charles Wright, from “Body and Soul” in A Short History of the Shadow (Farrar, Straus, and Giroux, 2002)