Re: [xmca] A bit of Auden

From: Mike Cole (lchcmike@gmail.com)
Date: Thu Aug 04 2005 - 13:43:58 PDT


And so it came to pass:
 The earth would soon, did Hermes run it,
Be like the Balkans.

 On 8/4/05, David Preiss <davidpreiss@puc.cl> wrote:
>
> As we went into the literary, i thought a bit of Auden would do no harm :)
> David
>
>
>
> A Reactionary Tract for the Times
>
> Ares at last has quit the field,
> The bloodstains on the bushes yield
> To seeping showers,
> And in their convalescent state
> The fractured towns associate
> With summer flowers.
>
> Encamped upon the college plain
> Raw veterans already train
> As freshman forces;
> Instructors with sarcastic tongue
> Shepherd the battle-weary young
> Through basic courses.
>
> Among bewildering appliances
> For mastering the arts and sciences
> They stroll or run,
> And nerves that steeled themselves to slaughter
> Are shot to pieces by the shorter
> Poems of Donne.
>
> Professors back from secret missions
> Resume their proper eruditions,
> Though some regret it;
> They liked their dictaphones a lot,
> T hey met some big wheels, and do not
> Let you forget it.
>
> But Zeus' inscrutable decree
> Permits the will-to-disagree
> To be pandemic,
> Ordains that vaudeville shall preach
> And every commencement speech
> Be a polemic.
>
> Let Ares doze, that other war
> Is instantly declared once more
> 'Twixt those who follow
> Precocious Hermes all the way
> And those who without qualms obey
> Pompous Apollo.
>
> Brutal like all Olympic games,
> Though fought with smiles and Christian names
> And less dramatic,
> This dialectic strife between
> The civil gods is just as mean,
> And more fanatic.
>
> What high immortals do in mirth
> Is life and death on Middle Earth;
> Their a-historic
> Antipathy forever gripes
> All ages and somatic types,
> The sophomoric
>
> Who face the future's darkest hints
> With giggles or with prairie squints
> As stout as Cortez,
> And those who like myself turn pale
> As we approach with ragged sail
> The fattening forties.
>
> The sons of Hermes love to play
> And only do their best when they
> Are told they oughtn't;
> Apollo's children never shrink
> From boring jobs but have to think
> Their work important.
>
> Related by antithesis,
> A compromise between us is
> Impossible;
> Respect perhaps but friendship never:
> Falstaff the fool confronts forever
> The prig Prince Hal.
>
> If he would leave the self alone,
> Apollo's welcome to the throne,
> Fasces and falcons;
> He loves to rule, has always done it;
> The earth would soon, did Hermes run it,
> Be like the Balkans.
>
> But jealous of our god of dreams,
> His common-sense in secret schemes
> To rule the heart;
> Unable to invent the lyre,
> Creates with simulated fire
> Official art.
>
> And when he occupies a college,
> Truth is replaced by Useful Knowledge;
> He pays particular
> Attention to Commercial Thought,
> Public Relations, Hygiene, Sport,
> In his curricula.
>
> Athletic, extrovert and crude,
> For him, to work in solitude
> Is the offence,
> The goal a populous Nirvana:
> His shield bears this device: Mens sana
> Qui mal y pense.
>
> Today his arms, we must confess,
> From Right to Left have met success,
> His banners wave
> From Yale to Princeton, and the news
> From Broadway to the Book Reviews
> Is very grave.
>
> His radio Homers all day long
> In over-Whitmanated song
> That does not scan,
> With adjectives laid end to end,
> Extol the doughnut and commend
> The Common Man.
>
> His, too, each homely lyric thing
> On sport or spousal love or spring
> Or dogs or dusters,
> Invented by some court-house bard
> For recitation by the yard
> In filibusters.
>
> To him ascend the prize orations
> And sets of fugal variations
> On some folk-ballad,
> While dietitians sacrifice
> A glass of prune-juice or a nice
> Marsh-mallow salad.
>
> Charged with his compound of sensational
> Sex plus some undenominational
> Religious matter,
> Enormous novels by co-eds
> Rain down on our defenceless heads
> Till our teeth chatter.
>
> In fake Hermetic uniforms
> Behind our battle-line, in swarms
> That keep alighting,
> His existentialists declare
> That they are in complete despair,
> Yet go on writing.
>
> No matter; He shall be defied;
> White Aphrodite is on our side:
> What though his threat
> To organize us grow more critical?
> Zeus willing, we, the unpolitical,
> Shall beat him yet.
>
> Lone scholars, sniping from the walls
> Of learned periodicals,
> Our facts defend,
> Our intellectual marines,
> Landing in little magazines
> Capture a trend.
>
> By night our student Underground
> At cocktail parties whisper round
> From ear to ear;
> Fat figures in the public eye
> Collapse next morning, ambushed by
> Some witty sneer.
>
> In our morale must lie our strength:
> So, that we may behold at length
> Routed Apollo's
> Battalions melt away like fog,
> Keep well the Hermetic Decalogue,
> Which runs as follows:
>
> Thou shalt not do as the dean pleases,
> Thou shalt not write thy doctor's thesis
> On education,
> Thou shalt not worship projects nor
> Shalt thou or thine bow down before
> Administration.
>
> Thou shalt not answer questionnaires
> Or quizzes upon World-Affairs,
> Nor with compliance
> Take any test. Thou shalt not sit
> With statisticians nor commit
> A social science.
>
> Thou shalt not be on friendly terms
> With guys in advertising firms,
> Nor speak with such
> As read the Bible for its prose,
> Nor, above all, make love to those
> Who wash too much.
>
> Thou shalt not live within thy means
> Nor on plain water and raw greens.
> If thou must choose
> Between the chances, choose the odd;
> Read The New Yorker, trust in God;
> And take short views.
>
> -- W. H. Auden <http://www.cs.rice.edu/~ssiyer/minstrels/index_poet_A.html#Auden>
>
> *David Preiss***
>
> *-------------------------------------------------------------------------
> *
>
> *Pontificia Universidad Catolica de Chile: www.puc.cl <http://www.puc.cl/>
> *
>
> *PACE Center at Yale University: www.yale.edu/pace<http://www.yale.edu/pace>
> *
>
> *Homepage: http://pantheon.yale.edu/~ddp6/*
>
> *Phone: 56-2-3544605*
>
> *Fax: 56-2-354-4844*
>
> *E-mail: david.preiss@yale.edu, davidpreiss@puc.cl*
>
> _______________________________________________
> xmca mailing list
> xmca@weber.ucsd.edu
> http://dss.ucsd.edu/mailman/listinfo/xmca
>
>
>


_______________________________________________
xmca mailing list
xmca@weber.ucsd.edu
http://dss.ucsd.edu/mailman/listinfo/xmca



This archive was generated by hypermail 2b29 : Thu Sep 01 2005 - 01:00:08 PDT