In a literary essay published by the New Yorker, the magazine's former deputy editor appeared to be baffled by an obvious Biblical reference.
Charles McGrath, also the former editor of the New York Times Book Review, wrote a piece on Victorian poet A. E. Housman, his distinctively English style and sensibility, and a new Housman biography written by British author Peter Parker.
McGrath at one point endorsed Parker's theory that not all of Housman's poems are intended to be taken literally, "including the strange one that recommends plucking out your eye and cutting off your hand or foot if it offends you," he noted.
If your right eye causes you to stumble, gouge it out and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell. And if your right hand causes you to stumble, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to go into hell.
Conservative journalist Helen Andrews first caught the amusing oversight and posted a screencap to Twitter, prompting a round of Internet ribbing.
Yes, what a strange image, plucking out your eye if it offends you, how do these poets come up with this stuff . . . pic.twitter.com/aTkKVfbrUI
— Helen Andrews (@herandrews) June 21, 2017
I want to write "The Lord only knows where they come up with such stuff" but it would seem a bit too on the nose.
— James Wester (@jameswester) June 21, 2017
— Ed Whelan (@EdWhelanEPPC) June 21, 2017
The Great Cultural Amnesia. https://t.co/hxMErZj3HM
— PEG (@pegobry) June 21, 2017
— Christine Emba (@ChristineEmba) June 21, 2017
Jesus H. Christ. https://t.co/NzspMN0XNP
— Varad Mehta (@varadmehta) June 21, 2017