Thursday, March 9, 2017

2016, The Gelded Age

How blest the land that counts among
Her sons so many good and wise,
To execute great feats of tongue
When troubles rise.

Behold them mounting every stump,
By speech our liberty to guard.
Observe their courage—see them jump,
And come down hard!

"Walk up, walk up!" each cries aloud,
"And learn from me what you must do
To turn aside the thunder cloud,
The earthquake too.

"Beware the wiles of yonder quack
Who stuffs the ears of all that pass.
I—I alone can show that black
Is white as grass."

They shout through all the day and break
The silence of the night as well.
They'd make—I wish they'd go and make—
Of Heaven a Hell.

A advocates free silver, B
Free trade and C free banking laws.
Free board, clothes, lodging would from me
Win warm applause.

Lo, D lifts up his voice: "You see
The single tax on land would fall
On all alike." More evenly
No tax at all.

"With paper money," bellows E,
"We'll all be rich as lords." No doubt—
And richest of the lot will be
The chap without.

As many "cures" as addle-wits
Who know not what the ailment is!
Meanwhile the patient foams and spits
Like a gin fizz.

Alas, poor Body Politic,
Your fate is all too clearly read:
To be not altogether quick,
Nor very dead.

You take your exercise in squirms,
Your rest in fainting fits between.
'Tis plain that your disorder's worms—
Worms fat and lean.

Worm Capital, Worm Labor dwell
Within your maw and muscle's scope.
Their quarrels make your life a Hell,
Your death a hope.

God send you find not such an end
To ills however sharp and huge!
God send you convalesce! God send
You vermifuge.
- Ambrose Bierce, "The Statesmen"

18 comments:

FreeThinke said...


________ Provide, Provide ________
 
The witch that came (the withered hag)
To wash the steps with pail and rag,
Was once the beauty Abishag,

The picture pride of Hollywood.
Too many fall from great and good
For you to doubt the likelihood.

Die early and avoid the fate.
Or if predestined to die late,
Make up your mind to die in state.

Make the whole stock exchange your own!
If need be occupy a throne,
Where nobody can call you crone.

Some have relied on what they knew;
Others on simply being true.
What worked for them might work for you.

No memory of having starred
Atones for later disregard,
Or keeps the end from being hard.

Better to go down dignified
With boughten friendship at your side
Than none at all. Provide, provide!

~ Robert Frost (1874-1963)

FreeThinke said...

Hardly a lyric poet, but Bierce makes his points in a quasi-rough, rustic style with wit, bite and clarity.

The "points"never really change; only the STYLE in which they are expressed does that.

(See Robert Frost's 'Provide Provide' above.)

FreeThinke said...

___ Little Judy and Her Duty ____

PART ONE

Judy didn't want to do her duty.
______ ”It’s boring," she would say,
"What is duty anyway, 
______ but doing what you hate?"

(Judy was already eight!)
Her parents wondered all day long,
"Wherever did we go so wrong?
____”It may already be too late
_________ to save her from a dreadful fate!"

Judy told them, "I don't care."
"But dear, you won't get anywhere,"
______ her worried parents said.

"Why should I go anywhere?
"I like it here," was all she'd say ––
______ and then go skipping off to play!

Judy hated to get up ––
______ She wouldn't go to bed.
She spilled the liquid from her cup ––
______ She hated to be fed.

She wouldn't lace her shoes up right ––
"I hate it when they fit so tight,"
______ said she –– and then tripped off to watch TV!

She never wore a pretty dress,
"It's lots of fun to be a mess,"
______ she’d say –– and then go skipping off to play.

She hated school ––
______ the teachers made her do such horrid things.
She'd sit and drool at lovely thoughts
______ like growing angel's wings.

"To fly between the drapes
______ would make the neatest of escapes,"
______ she thought,
Then went to do the very things 
______ she knew she hadn't ought.

She hated reading writing, 
______ and of course arithmetic.
"It's so boring, boring, boring
______ it’s bound to make me sick,"
______ she said.
"I'm sure it feels much better
______ to be dead!”


(CONTINUED)

FreeThinke said...

___ Little Judy and Her Duty ____

PART TWO

As Judy reached the age of nine,
______ she followed still no known design.
Her teachers met and talked one day:
"Wherever did we go astray?"
______ said they.

"Nowhere! I'm fine,"
______ said she ––
And then skipped home –– to watch TV!

By now, she hated all her toys
______ and all the other girls and boys.
She hated meat –– she hated fish ––
______ and every other proper dish!

She only spoke in raves and rants
______ and wouldn't wear her underpants!
She went outdoors one day undressed!
______ The neighbors whispered, "She's POSSESSED!"

The school psychologist was called,
______ but quite refused to be appalled.
"Your rigid rules just shouldn't be.
______ ”They stifle creativity,"
__________ he said.
Just leave the little girl alone,
______ and she'll get better when she's grown ––
__________ and safely wed!"

He's absolutely BONKERS!"
______ said her mother when she heard.
Her loving father pursed his lips
______ but didn't say a word.

"I really think it's time for us
______ to go on the attack
"It may be just the right approach ––
______ something that we lack" ––
______ her mother said,
__________ ”I’m finally seeing red."

Just then, the little Judy in
______ the boudoir rode her bike,
And crashed into her father's shin.
______ He howled his dislike,
"That's IT!,” he yelled,

______ “YOUR PARENTS ARE
______ OFFICIALLY ON STRIKE!”
 

(CONTINUED)

FreeThinke said...


(CONTINUED)

___ Little Judy and Her Duty ____

PART THREE

He left his job; he paid no bills
______ or taxes anymore.
Her mother didn't shop or cook.
______ ”It’s such a crashing bore” ––
______ said she ––
__________ and ambled off to watch TV!

The dirty clothes kept piling up.
______ The house began to stink!
There was no tea or coffee ––
______ every cup was in the sink.

Her father wouldn't mow the lawn.
______ It grew to be knee high.
He shrugged, and gave a great big yawn,
______ “I hope it hits the sky,"
______ he cried ––
______ Her mother simply shook her head
__________ and sighed.

The garden wasn't tended.
______ The weeds choked out 
__________ the blooms.
No clothing now got mended.
______ Garbage filled up
__________ all the rooms!

"They're cutting off the power,"
______ her mother said one day.
"Great! I love a good cold shower,"
______ said her father sounding gay.

They'll soon cut off the water:
______ you’ve used up every shirt,"
______ said her mother to her father.
So what! Why should we bother?
______ We have a little daughter
__________ who loves to play in dirt!"
______ said he ––
______ and went off humming merrily.

The food spoiled in the larder.
______ Everything got much MUCH harder.
"What's going on?" Judy asked one day.
"Don't worry, honey, –– just go out and play,"
______ was all they said ––
______ and then went shuffling back to bed!


(CONTINUED)

FreeThinke said...

___ Little Judy and Her Duty ____

PART FOUR

Judy love it all –– at first ––
______ but felt she soon might die of thirst.
"What's happened to my juice and milk?"
______ she asked at last.
"We have no money, dear, ––
______ you’ll simply have to fast,"
______ her mother said ––
______ and ambled back to bed!

The mailman still brought letters.
______ They weren't very sweet,
"My dear, we're now bad debtors --
______ soon they'll put us in the street,"
______ her father spoke ––
______ as if the whole thing were a joke!
Her mother hadn't much to say,
______ but acted like it was okay!

Feeling hungry cold and tired
______ Judy said, "This isn't fair.
"I'll go out and I'LL get hired;
______ I see it's time I GOT somewhere."

But, looking dirty, thin and pallid
______ didn’t open many doors.
Judy's papers weren't valid.

"You're a DROPOUT, and unfit
______ to do the meanest of our chores,"
______ they’d scold ––
______ and Judy shivered in the sudden cold.

She went back to her parents 
______ on the curb, and cried and cried.
"Do you think we ever could go home
______ and live once more inside?"

"I think that might just be arranged,
______ but only if you've really changed,"
______ her mother said,
"Promise us you'll go to school
______ and not be such a little fool.
"Your way from now on must be earned
______ by showing that your lesson's learned.

"Say neat and clean, and show your beauty;
"Don't be mean. And DO YOUR DUTY.
"In other words, be as good as gold,
______ or else we'll stay out in the cold,"
______ her father said.

You mean we have a CHOICE?"
______ asked the girl in startled voice.
"Of course we do,"
______ they said.
"It was the only way we could get through
______ to show how much we cared for you!"

"You mean you went
______ through all of that for ME?"
And when they said, "Yes!"
______ all she could think to say was, "GEE!"
______ but added soon,
______ ”I see I've been a really stupid kid!
_______ I’m sorry. I'll do better."

___________ And –– she DID!


~ FreeThinke - The Sandpiper, Autumn 1997

FreeThinke said...

No one has ever made the point more tellingly than KIPLING, of course. In my never humble opinion the following could never be posted or pondered often enough.


As I pass through my incarnations
___ in every age and race,
I make my proper prostrations
___ to the Gods of the Market Place.
Peering through reverent fingers
___ I watch them flourish and fall,
And the Gods of the Copybook Headings,
___ I notice, outlast them all.

We were living in trees when they met us.
___ They showed us each in turn
That Water would certainly wet us,
___ as Fire would certainly burn:
But we found them lacking in Uplift,
___ Vision and Breadth of Mind,
So we left them to teach the Gorillas
___ while we followed the March of Mankind
.

We moved as the Spirit listed.
___ They never altered their pace,
Being neither cloud nor wind-borne
___ like the Gods of the Market Place,
But they always caught up with our progress,
___ and presently word would come
That a tribe had been wiped off its icefield,
___ or the lights had gone out in Rome.

With the Hopes that our World is built on
___ they were utterly out of touch,
They denied that the Moon was Stilton;
___ they denied she was even Dutch;
They denied that Wishes were Horses;
___ they denied that a Pig had Wings;
So we worshipped the Gods of the Market
___ Who promised these beautiful things.

When the Cambrian measures were forming,
___ They promised perpetual peace.
They swore, if we gave them our weapons,
___ that the wars of the tribes would cease.
But when we disarmed They sold us
___ and delivered us bound to our foe,
And the Gods of the Copybook Headings said:
___ "Stick to the Devil you know."


On the first Feminian Sandstones
___ we were promised the Fuller Life
(Which started by loving our neighbour
___ and ended by loving his wife)
Till our women had no more children
___ and the men lost reason and faith,
And the Gods of the Copybook Headings said:
___ "The Wages of Sin is Death."


In the Carboniferous Epoch
___ we were promised abundance for all,
By robbing selected Peter
___ to pay for collective Paul;
But, though we had plenty of money,
___ there was nothing our money could buy,
And the Gods of the Copybook Headings said:
___ "If you don't work you die."


Then the Gods of the Market tumbled,
___ and their smooth-tongued wizards withdrew
And the hearts of the meanest were humbled
___ and began to believe it was true
That All is not Gold that Glitters,
___ and Two and Two make Four
And the Gods of the Copybook Headings
___ limped up to explain it once more.

As it will be in the future,
__ it was at the birth of Man
There are only four things certain
___ since Social Progress began.
That the Dog returns to his Vomit
___ and the Sow returns to her Mire,
And the burnt Fool's bandaged finger
___ goes wabbling back to the Fire;

And that after this is accomplished,
___ and the brave new world begins
When all men are paid for existing
___ and no man must pay for his sins,
As surely as Water will wet us,
___ as surely as Fire will burn,
The Gods of the Copybook Headings
___ with terror and slaughter return!


The Gods of the Copybook Headings (1919)
~ Rudyard Kipling (1865-1936)

FreeThinke said...

"Like the diet prescribed by doctors, which neither restores the strength of the patient nor allows him to succumb, so these doles that you are now distributing, neither suffice to ensure your safety nor allow you to renounce them and try something else."

~ Demosthenes (384-322 B. C.)

Please note the date. The was reportedly said approximately THREE-HUNDRED-FIFTY YEARS before the Birth of CHRIST!

Jersey McJones said...

That poem of yours was really fun, FT. Just can't stop smiling. :)

To the post, I'd like to hear what you guys have to say about 'taxing the land,' about the property tax system... Are we not a free people by virtue of property taxes?

JMJ


FreeThinke said...

Thanks, Jersey. I'm glad you enjoyed "Little Judy" which I dreamt up one afternoon in less than two hours. Having to meet deadlines for a publication can be very inspirational! ;-) It was published in The Sandpiper with custom-drawn illustrations I wish could have been included here. Ostensibly a "Children's Book," "Little Judy" is, of course, a rhymed parable for adults about the idiocies of modern ideas about child rearing. It is also an indictment of the popular culture, though admittedly tongue-in-cheek. Read on a more naive level, however, it works pretty well if read to little children too. The few tiny tots in may acquaintance loved it.

I hope you noticed that Bierce, Frost, Kipling, Demosthenes and I have all given essentially the same message?

"There's nothing new under the sun," said Ecclesiastes, but each culture and each, generation is always finding different ways of expressing basic home truths. To "preach" in ways that touch the emotions, make us think, or make us laugh is an art. To "preach" merely by scolding, bullying or threatening is anathema.

Not to preach at all may etiher be either a blessing or a curse depending on the weather.

As you must know by now, I love Emily Dickinson. She had the gift of packing a wallop using very few words:

Some keep the Sabbath going to Church ––
I keep it staying at home ––
With a Bobolink for a Chorister ––
And an Orchard for a Dome.

Some keep the Sabbath in Surplice ––
I just spread my wings ––
And instead of tolling the Bell for Church
Our little Sexton sings.

God preaches –– a noted clergyman! ––
And the Sermon is never long,
So, instead of getting to Heaven at last
I'm going all along!


~ Emily Dickinson (1830-1886)

FreeThinke said...

For all its toil and torment, broken dreams and betrayed ideals life is always worth living –– even at the worst of times. Let us try not to waste our precious time in fruitless argumentation over trivial details, bitter denunciation, mockery, too much idle speculation, or wanton dissipation.

Shelley here reminds of what we all just face sooner or later –– and of the heartbreak felt by those left behind when all opportunity to love and make amends becomes forever lost.


__ The Cold Earth Slept Below __

The cold earth slept below;
____ Above the cold sky shone;
______ And all around,
______ With a chilling sound,
From caves of ice and fields of snow
The breath of night like death did flow
______ Beneath the sinking moon.

The wintry hedge was black;
____ The green grass was not seen;
______ The birds did rest
______ On the bare thorn’s breast,
Whose roots, beside the pathway track,
Had bound their folds o’er many a crack
______ Which the frost had made between.

Thine eyes glow’d in the glare
____ Of the moon’s dying light;
______ As a fen-fire’s beam
______ On a sluggish stream
Gleams dimly—so the moon shone there,
And it yellow’d the strings of thy tangled hair,
______ That shook in the wind of night.

The moon made thy lips pale, beloved;
____ The wind made thy bosom chill;
______ The night did shed
______ On thy dear head
Its frozen dew, and thou didst lie
Where the bitter breath of the naked sky
______ Might visit thee at will.


~ Percy Bysshe Shelley (1792-1822)

Gert said...

Great video, Farmer.

It appears these Gilded Ages are the exception to the rule: they just don't happen very often at all.

FreeThinke said...

Somewhere over the rainbow
______ when they're high
There's a land leftists dream of
______ built in a Great Big Lie.


];^}>

FreeThinke said...

We're out to eat your gizzard
'Cause we know what you have is ours.
'Twill be a treat to eat your meat
No matter what anyone does.

Your gizzard's a treat that's hard to beat
It is the meat we wantto eat,
Because because because because because
'It's tender and tasty and has no fuzz

We're out to eat your gizzard
'Cause we know what you have is ours!

FreeThinke said...

Ha ha ha! Ho ho ho!
______ and a couple of har dee hars!
That's how we piss the day away
___ in this Communist land of ours!

We get up at twelve
______ and start to work at one
Take some time for sex,
______ and pump it till we're done.
Jolly good fun!

Ha ha ha! Ho ho ho!
______ and a couple of la-di-das!
That's how we piss the day away
___ in this Communist land of ours!

-FJ said...

You seem inspired, FT! ;)

FreeThinke said...

"PROVOkED"may be more like it, FJ. ;-)

Fighting Horror with Humor is more may style than coarse, unimaginative invective.

FreeThinke said...

Could "Littlefield" be an angicizathiin of KLEINFELD –– a name taken by many German Jews?

Seems likely given the obvious COMMUNISTIC BENT of the teacher Littlefield who dreamt up this perverted interpretation of the L. Frank Baum's work.

Of course "Baum," itself, is often a Jewish name [Vicki Baum author of Grand Hotel and Laura among other mesmerizing tales easily springs to mind], and L. Frank, himself, has been hastised and brutally defamed as a racist, bigot, an advocate of gencide, and an-anti-Semite in the modern muckraking tradition, so maybe that doesn't work in this context?

At any rate, I do not appreciate 'academics' who pickaback the work of original authors to boost their academic careers with a lot of fn afoul educated guesswork touted as "truth." I see it as a form of cheating, myself, and regard it as a low trick.