2 Responses to Quotes Suitable for Framing: James Russell Lowell

  • Mr. McClarey.

    Thank you from my heart.
    I’m taking a day off to nurse a flu and this timely truth from JRL has reached its target.

    Like rich cuisine I must taste the entree with reasonable amounts and cherish the flavors slowly and carefully.

    Going back for another bite.Thanks.

  • Hope you get better Philip. TR.

Eddi’s Service

Monday, December 19, AD 2016

 

The thirty-second in my on-going series on the poetry of Rudyard Kipling. The other posts in the series may be read here, here , here , here, here , here, here, here, here, here, here, here , here, here, here , here, here, here , here, here, here , here, here , here , here , here , herehere, here , here and here.

Kipling was not conventionally religious, but religious themes frequently occur in his poetry.  Christmas was a theme that Kipling came back to throughout his career, beginning with the poem Christmas in India which he wrote when he was twenty.  Eddi’s Service first appeared in Kipling’s book Rewards and Fairies in 1910 and features a most unusual Christmas midnight mass:

Eddi’s Service

(A.D. 687)

EDDI, priest of St. Wilfrid

In his chapel at Manhood End,

Ordered a midnight service

For such as cared to attend.

But the Saxons were keeping Christmas,

And the night was stormy as well.

Nobody came to service,

Though Eddi rang the bell.

‘Wicked weather for walking,’

Said Eddi of Manhood End.

‘But I must go on with the service

For such as care to attend.

The altar-lamps were lighted,

An old marsh-donkey came,

Bold as a guest invited,

And stared at the guttering flame.

The storm beat on at the windows,

The water splashed on the floor,

And a wet, yoke-weary bullock

Pushed in through the open door.

‘How do I know what is greatest,

How do I know what is least?

That is My Father’s business,’

Said Eddi, Wilfrid’s priest.

‘But – three are gathered together –

Listen to me and attend.

I bring good news, my brethren!’

Said Eddi of Manhood End.

And he told the Ox of a Manger

And a Stall in Bethlehem,

And he spoke to the Ass of a Rider,

That rode to Jerusalem.

They steamed and dripped in the chancel,

They listened and never stirred,

While, just as though they were Bishops,

Eddi preached them The Word,

Till the gale blew off on the marshes

And the windows showed the day,

And the Ox and the Ass together

Wheeled and clattered away.

And when the Saxons mocked him,

Said Eddi of Manhood End,

‘I dare not shut His chapel

On such as care to attend.’

Continue reading...

One Response to Eddi’s Service

Lepanto

Sunday, October 2, AD 2016

I will be doing my usual post on Lepanto on October 7, but I couldn’t pass up the opportunity today to post the above video.  Tom Kratman, who does a grand job reading Chesterton’s poem, is a science fiction author and a retired Lieutenant Colonel in the Army.    In Lepanto Chesterton captured the spirit of Catholicism at its best in this world, a spirit that can never be beaten no matter the forces arrayed against it.

Continue reading...

3 Responses to Lepanto

The Widow at Windsor

Sunday, May 8, AD 2016

The thirty-first in my ongoing series examining the poetry of Rudyard Kipling. The other posts in the series may be read here, here , here , here, here , here, here, here, here, here, here, here , here, here, here , here, here, here , here, here, here , here, here , here , here , here , herehere, here and here.

Going away the most popular monarch in British history was Queen Victoria who reigned 63 years and seven months over the United Kingdom and the British Empire, being acclaimed Empress of India on May 1, 1876.  To most of her British subjects she became a mother figure, as her reign went on, particularly in the 1880s and 1890s.  After the death of her beloved husband Prince Albert in 1861, shortly after his efforts in toning down a British message to the Lincoln administration during the Trent affair helped avert war between the United States and Great Britain, she put on black mourning which she wore for the remainder of her life.  Her relative isolation after that perhaps added to her air of majesty as she became a symbol of her far flung domains encompassing a quarter of the population of the Earth.

Kipling had a fairly ambivalent attitude to the British monarchy, liking them well enough as human beings, but also recognizing the struggle that had been waged throughout English history to gain liberties.  The role of British monarchs during Kipling’s life time suited Kipling:  they were now out of politics and reigned but did not rule.  Kipling had boundless contempt for almost all politicians, calling them little tin gods on wheels, an expression not original to him but which he dearly loved.  In his Barrack Room Ballads (1892) Kipling inserted a tribute by a common soldier to the Widow of Windsor:

‘Ave you ‘eard o’ the Widow at Windsor
With a hairy gold crown on ‘er ‘ead?
She ‘as ships on the foam — she ‘as millions at ‘ome,
An’ she pays us poor beggars in red.
(Ow, poor beggars in red!)
There’s ‘er nick on the cavalry ‘orses,
There’s ‘er mark on the medical stores —
An’ ‘er troopers you’ll find with a fair wind be’ind
That takes us to various wars.
(Poor beggars! — barbarious wars!)
Then ‘ere’s to the Widow at Windsor,
An’ ‘ere’s to the stores an’ the guns,
The men an’ the ‘orses what makes up the forces
O’ Missis Victorier’s sons.
(Poor beggars! Victorier’s sons!)

Walk wide o’ the Widow at Windsor,
For ‘alf o’ Creation she owns:
We ‘ave bought ‘er the same with the sword an’ the flame,
An’ we’ve salted it down with our bones.
(Poor beggars! — it’s blue with our bones!)
Hands off o’ the sons o’ the Widow,
Hands off o’ the goods in ‘er shop,
For the Kings must come down an’ the Emperors frown
When the Widow at Windsor says “Stop”!
(Poor beggars! — we’re sent to say “Stop”!)
Then ‘ere’s to the Lodge o’ the Widow,
From the Pole to the Tropics it runs —
To the Lodge that we tile with the rank an’ the file,
An’ open in form with the guns.
(Poor beggars! — it’s always they guns!)

We ‘ave ‘eard o’ the Widow at Windsor,
It’s safest to let ‘er alone:
For ‘er sentries we stand by the sea an’ the land
Wherever the bugles are blown.
(Poor beggars! — an’ don’t we get blown!)
Take ‘old o’ the Wings o’ the Mornin’,
An’ flop round the earth till you’re dead;
But you won’t get away from the tune that they play
To the bloomin’ old rag over’ead.
(Poor beggars! — it’s ‘ot over’ead!)
Then ‘ere’s to the sons o’ the Widow,
Wherever, ‘owever they roam.
‘Ere’s all they desire, an’ if they require
A speedy return to their ‘ome.
(Poor beggars! — they’ll never see ‘ome!)       

Continue reading...

Danegeld

Friday, April 29, AD 2016

 

The thirtieth in my ongoing series examining the poetry of Rudyard Kipling. The other posts in the series may be read here, here , here , here, here , here, here, here, here, here, here, here , here, here, here , here, here, here , here, here, here , here, here , here , here , here , herehere and hereOne of the many reasons to read Kipling is due to how much of his writing stands the test of time.  A good example of this is Dane-geld written in 1911.  Danegeld was a tax levied by the Kings of Wessex to buy peace with the various invading warbands of Danes in the ninth through the eleventh century.  The Danegeld of course convinced the various Danes in Denmark that it was a good idea to invade England, be bought off in gold by a Saxon king and then to settle in England and repeat the process whenever money ran short.  One would think that the bad consequences of giving way to such extortion should be obvious, but it is amazing how often this simple lesson has been repeated down the centuries.  The Obama administration has paid Danegeld of a sort to various enemies, or would be enemies, of the US, including Iran, Russia, North Korea, thus having the US pay for trouble down the road.

Kipling is not merely to be read for amusement during an idle hour.  Read carefully he often has wisdom useful for today.  Here is the text of Dane-geld:

Continue reading...

4 Responses to Danegeld

  • The Obama/Hillary motives (hatred of American interests and abhorrence of popular/self-rule) may have been different from Wessex’ kings’ motives (buy peace).
    .
    Quoted at “The Daily Gouge”: Andrew Roberts, “Similarly, during the Arab Spring, the Libyan Uprising, the annexation of the Crimea, the Syrian civil war, and the Ukrainian insurgency, Hillary/Obama have in each case carefully identified the pro-democracy forces and then either denied them American support or actively undermined them…”
    .
    Early on, President Jefferson knew the lesson. I believe he said/wrote: “Million for war. But, not one penny for tribute.” Today, the World incentivizes Somali//Skinnies’ piracy.

  • I agree with T Shaw – again.

  • Pingback: The Widow at Windsor – The American Catholic
  • Pingback: The Widow at Windsor | Almost Chosen People

His Childhood Home He Saw Again

Tuesday, April 12, AD 2016

All of his life Abraham Lincoln enjoyed poetry and would occasionally compose poetry.  In the fall of 1844 he was campaigning for Henry Clay in Clay’s unsuccessful run for the Presidency in southern Indiana and visited the region where he lived as a boy.  He told a friend that the terrain was the most unpoetic imaginable, but moved by nostalgia he set pen to paper:

I

My childhood’s home I see again,
And sadden with the view;
And still, as memory crowds my brain,
There’s pleasure in it too.

O Memory! thou midway world
‘Twixt earth and paradise,
Where things decayed and loved ones lost
In dreamy shadows rise,

And, freed from all that’s earthly vile,
Seem hallowed, pure, and bright,
Like scenes in some enchanted isle
All bathed in liquid light.

As dusky mountains please the eye
When twilight chases day;
As bugle-tones that, passing by,
In distance die away;

As leaving some grand waterfall,
We, lingering, list its roar–
So memory will hallow all
We’ve known, but know no more.

Near twenty years have passed away
Since here I bid farewell
To woods and fields, and scenes of play,
And playmates loved so well.

Where many were, but few remain
Of old familiar things;
But seeing them, to mind again
The lost and absent brings.

The friends I left that parting day,
How changed, as time has sped!
Young childhood grown, strong manhood gray,
And half of all are dead.

I hear the loved survivors tell
How nought from death could save,
Till every sound appears a knell,
And every spot a grave.

I range the fields with pensive tread,
And pace the hollow rooms,
And feel (companion of the dead)
I’m living in the tombs.

Continue reading...

Benedict XV, Rudyard Kipling, John Bunyan and G. K. Chesterton

Thursday, December 31, AD 2015

Benedict-XV 

The cheapest and most childish of all the taunts of the Pacifists is, I think, the sneer at belligerents for appealing to the God of Battles. It is ludicrously illogical, for we obviously have no right to kill for victory save when we have a right to pray for it. If a war is not a holy war, it is an unholy one — a massacre.

                                                                                  G.K. Chesterton, October 23, 1915

(Rudyard Kipling was born one hundred and fifty years ago yesterday on December 30, 1865.  To observe the date I am reposting this post from 2011.  On all that I have written about Kipling, and that is now a considerable amount, this is my favorite piece. I would observe in passing that both Chesterton and CS Lewis, although they differed considerably from Kipling’s views on many topics, were both fans of him as a writer.)

The eighth in my ongoing series examining the poetry of Rudyard Kipling.   The other posts in the series may be read here, here , here , herehere , here and here.   Kipling wrote quite a few poems during his lifetime.  Some are world-famous, most are not, and some are today almost completely forgotten.   The Holy War (1917) is today one of Kipling’s most obscure poems, but caused something of a stir when he wrote it in Advent during 1917.

A tinker out of Bedford,
A vagrant oft in quod,
A private under Fairfax,
A minister of God–
Two hundred years and thirty
Ere Armageddon came
His single hand portrayed it,
And Bunyan was his name!_

He mapped, for those who follow,
The world in which we are–
 ‘This famous town of Mansoul’
That takes the Holy War
Her true and traitor people,
The gates along her wall,
From Eye Gate unto Feel Gate,
John Bunyan showed them all.

All enemy divisions,
Recruits of every class,
 And highly-screened positions
For flame or poison-gas,
The craft that we call modern,
The crimes that we call new,
John Bunyan had ’em typed and filed
In Sixteen Eighty-two

Likewise the Lords of Looseness
That hamper faith and works,
The Perseverance-Doubters,
 And Present-Comfort shirks,
With brittle intellectuals
Who crack beneath a strain–
John Bunyan met that helpful set
In Charles the Second’s reign.

Emmanuel’s vanguard dying
For right and not for rights,
My Lord Apollyon lying
 To the State-kept Stockholmites,
 The Pope, the swithering Neutrals,
The Kaiser and his Gott–
 Their roles, their goals, their naked souls–
He knew and drew the lot.

Now he hath left his quarters,
 In Bunhill Fields to lie.
The wisdom that he taught us
Is proven prophecy–
One watchword through our armies,
One answer from our lands–
 ‘No dealings with Diabolus
 As long as Mansoul stands.

_A pedlar from a hovel,
The lowest of the low,
The father of the Novel,
Salvation’s first Defoe,
Eight blinded generations
Ere Armageddon came,
He showed us how to meet it,
And Bunyan was his name!_

At one level the poem is a fairly straight-forward paean to John Bunyan, the English writer who penned Pilgrims’s Progress, which every school child used to read back in days when schools spent far more time on academics and far less time on political indoctrination and fake subjects like “Consumer Ed”.  He also wrote quite a few other books and pamphlets, perhaps the best known of which is The Holy War, which portrays a war for the City of Mansoul between the good defenders and the evil besiegers.  I need not spell out the allegorical meaning of the work when the city’s named is rendered as Man Soul.  Kipling had been a devotee of Bunyan since his childhood, and I suppose that part of his motivation in writing the poem was to pay back a literary debt.

Continue reading...

11 Responses to Benedict XV, Rudyard Kipling, John Bunyan and G. K. Chesterton

  • I learned more history about WW I in this essay than I did in all my years of public schooling.

  • I too am a big fan of Kipling. An added benefit is that liberals’ heads explode when I mention his name.
    .
    Not all liberals, tho. My father (old soldier, Kipling man) was still with us and able to attend my son’s US Army commissioning ceremony at the lovely chapel in Fordham U. We were all pleasantly surprised when, after Father President gave the benediction, another Jesuit priest (apparently he does this every year) did a fine reading of Kipling’s “Recessional.”
    .

    Kipling’s short stories are valuable, as well.
    .

    .

  • It is hard to see how Great Britain could have seen WWI as anything other than a war that must be fought through to a just victory, a “holy war” perfectly valid against the Kaiser and his ruthless military leadership.

    Just for one point, it was the first use of senseless aerial bombing (both Zeppelin and early long-range bombers) against civilian population centers, needlessly killing hundreds and wounding hundreds more.

  • The irony is that Kipling did get his wish concerning German militarism, but only in 1945, and after Foch’s twenty year armistice.

  • (World War I) was the first use of senseless aerial bombing (both Zeppelin and early long-range bombers) against civilian population centers, needlessly killing hundreds and wounding hundreds more.
    Steve Phoenix

    Aerial bombing of civilian population centers was an easily anticipated response to Britain’s Starvation Blockade (yes, that’s what the British Government openly called it) barring all shipping, even from neutrals and even of food, to Germany. The other noteworthy response of Germany to Britain’s plan to starve civilians to death en masse was her submarine warfare against British shipping and other ships carrying war materiel to Britain. By the way, British practice was to mingle passenger ships within convoys of warships and armed merchant ships carrying war material to Britain. Think about that when the current heir to Wilson’s positions as Democrat party leader and US President complains about ISIS positioning its fighters among civilians.

    2016 is the 100th anniversary of Woodrow “He Kept Us Out Of War” Wilson’s re-election. Yes, the Democrat KKK-fanboy marched the USA right into war after his re-election. There were over 300,000 casualties of young American men, over 100,000 of which were deaths. (But to hear the feminist Mrs. Clinton tell it, women had it worse.)

  • Great article, just correct:
    In 1907 Pope BENEDiCT….

    By the way, yeah on Pope Pius XIi, but he was silent too many times and the Second War was clearer where was the evil.

    Best regards,
    Pedro

  • Thanks for catching that Pedro. I have made the correction. During World War II nobody was criticizing the Pope for silences. Everyone knew where he stood.

  • “yes, that’s what the British Government openly called it)”

    No, that is what the Kaiser’s government called it as part of their propaganda. Germany imported food from the Netherlands and Scandinavia throughout the War. Due to their victories against Russia, they had access to the grain producing regions of Poland and the Ukraine during the latter part of the War. German food rationing, and stealing food from conquered areas, kept starvation from happening in Germany, hysterical Teutonic propaganda to the contrary notwithstanding.

    ” marched the USA right into war after his re-election.”

    The Republicans were much more eager for War against the Central Powers than Wilson. His hand was forced by the Zimmerman telegram in which Germany promised Mexico parts of the US in exchange for Mexican support of Germany in any war between Germany and the US.

  • You are always welcome.
    Yes everyone knew and he even plotted to kill Hitler, but the own Pius xii recognized his silence in his speeches as Pope.
    I recommend the excellent book “The church of spies” . Riebling clarifies.
    Best regards,
    Pedro

  • Pingback: Making Dogma Out of Unsettled Science, Art and the Embodiment of the Incarnate Word, and Much More! | The Guadalupe Radio Network
  • Yes, I agree that we should do something about our schools – voting comes to mind

The Ballad of the Goodly Fere

Friday, October 9, AD 2015

ezra-pound

Ezra Pound, fascist, anti-Semite, traitor and loon, was still a great poet.  I have always admired this poem, not because of the way Christ is portrayed, but the imagination behind it.  Christ and the apostles transformed into quasi Viking heroes of a medieval chronicle!   All very odd.  I am interested in opinions from our readers on the poem and on Pound as a poet.  Here is T.S. Eliot on Pound as a poet.

Continue reading...

5 Responses to The Ballad of the Goodly Fere

  • No capon priest! Same attitude as in the Saint Nick hermeneutic ! Fight back

  • It might be mentioned that Pound’s failings were pretty much all centered on his anti-Semitism of which he repented late in life.

  • I’m ok with the poem; however my taste in poems runs to Kipling and some Frost.
    .
    Only edit would be to Revise “A Son of God . . .,” to read, “The Son of God.”
    .
    Here’s a fun (my quaint idea of “fun”) factoid for a Saturday. Certain Vikings were late converted. Norwegian King Sigurd Jorsalfar (Crusader or Jerusalem Farer) led a fleet of long ships into the Med and was fairly successful in raiding Saracen ports.

  • And there is Saint Olaf Haraldson: http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/11234a.htm
    ” In his early youth he went as a Viking to England, where he partook in many battles and became earnestly interested in Christianity.” I learned of Saint Olaf during my occasional visits to my oldest best friend down in Virginia where we would attend Saint Olaf’s on Sundays. The only disconcerting aspect of the place was its architecture. As we walked towards the building, my dear departed friend Mike said, “This is a Catholic Church cleverly disguised as a Protestant Church”.

Hath Melted Like Snow In The Glance Of The Lord

Thursday, June 11, AD 2015

Assyrian Empire

 

 

The Destruction of Sennacherib

The Assyrian came down like the wolf on the fold,
And his cohorts were gleaming in purple and gold;
And the sheen of their spears was like stars on the sea,
When the blue wave rolls nightly on deep Galilee.

  Like the leaves of the forest when Summer is green,
That host with their banners at sunset were seen:
Like the leaves of the forest when Autumn hath blown,
That host on the morrow lay withered and strown.

  For the Angel of Death spread his wings on the blast,
And breathed in the face of the foe as he passed;
And the eyes of the sleepers waxed deadly and chill,
And their hearts but once heaved, and for ever grew still!

  And there lay the steed with his nostril all wide,
But through it there rolled not the breath of his pride;
And the foam of his gasping lay white on the turf,
And cold as the spray of the rock-beating surf.

  And there lay the rider distorted and pale,
With the dew on his brow, and the rust on his mail:
And the tents were all silent, the banners alone,
The lances unlifted, the trumpet unblown.

  And the widows of Ashur are loud in their wail,
And the idols are broke in the temple of Baal;
And the might of the Gentile, unsmote by the sword,
Hath melted like snow in the glance of the Lord!

George Gordon, Lord Byron

Continue reading...

9 Responses to Hath Melted Like Snow In The Glance Of The Lord

  • Thank you
    I have been thinking and teaching about this incident too in our study of the historical books/prophets We must always remember His sovereignty.

  • Sennacherib story 2 Kings 18:13-19:37

    Another incident: 2 Kings 6:24 – 7:20

  • It appears that the wicked are no students of history.

  • Very good. But now, in our age, the situation is precisely the reverse.

  • And so it seemed in the time when God destroyed the Assyrian Army to save Jerusalem.

  • Thank you for posting this Mr. McClarey.

    We are on the public square tomorrow at noon. Rosaries Banners and Prayers to God through Mary Our Queen.
    “Gods Marriage = 1 man & 1 woman.”

    Please pray with us where ever you find yourself at noon. We’re asking for divine intervention to prevail in the soon to be announced Supreme Court decision.

    Homosexual camps remind me of the followers of Baal. Mighty they thought themselves to be. A God of great power they trusted ( todays entertainment industry ) yet it too will fail. Public opinion will not be enough to trump the Sacred Heart. They will not nor can not change Gods views on perversity. Sodomy is death to the soul.

    Thank you in advance for your prayers at noon.

  • @Philip: Done. May God bless you and your good works.

  • @FMShyanguya-

    Thank you. We had witnessed many cars slowing down and yelling out “Amen” and “Great Job” as we knelt before a San Diamino Crucifix (sp), and followed along the prayer format.

    The bright banner simply said; Gods Marriage = 1 man & 1 woman.

    I was surprised that we didn’t have at the very least one heckler or opposition from a passer by, but not one. God is so good.
    Thank you again for your prayers!
    Peace.

  • @Philip: Good stuff! Thanks be to God and thank you [and those who were with you]!

Litany for Dictatorships

Tuesday, April 21, AD 2015

 Stephen Viincent Benet

The home raids on conservatives in Wisconsin, go here to read about them, brought this Stephen Vincent Benet poem that he wrote in 1935 to mind.  If more people do not stand up when government is run by gangsters this could happen here:

 

For all those beaten, for the broken heads,
The fosterless, the simple, the oppressed,
The ghosts in the burning city of our time…

For those taken in rapid cars to the house and beaten
By the skillful boys with the rubber fists,
-Held down and beaten, the table cutting the loins
Or kicked in the groin and left, with the muscles jerking
Like a headless hen’s on the floor of the slaughter-house
While they brought the next man in with his white eyes staring.
For those who still said “Red Front” or “God save the Crown!”
And for those who were not courageous
But were beaten nevertheless.
For those who spit out the bloody stumps of their teeth
      Quietly in the hall,
Sleep well on stone or iron, watch for the time
And kill the guard in the privy before they die,
Those with the deep-socketed eyes and the lamp burning.

For those who carry the scars, who walk lame – for those
Whose nameless graves are made in the prison-yard
And the earth smoothed back before the morning and the lime scattered.

For those slain at once.
For those living through the months and years
Enduring, watching, hoping, going each day
To the work or the queue for meat or the secret club,
Living meanwhile, begetting children, smuggling guns,
And found and killed at the end like rats in a drain.

For those escaping
Incredibly into exile and wandering there.
For those who live in the small rooms of foreign cities
And who yet think of the country, the long green grass,
The childhood voices, the language, the way wind smelt then,
The shape of rooms, the coffee drunk at the table,
The talk with friends, the loved city, the waiter’s face,
The gravestones, with the name, where they will not lie
Nor in any of that earth.
Their children are strangers.

For those who planned and were leaders and were beaten
And for those, humble and stupid, who had no plan
But were denounced, but were angry, but told a joke,
But could not explain, but were sent away to the camp,
But had their bodies shipped back in the sealed coffins,
“Died of pneumonia.” “Died trying to escape.”

For those growers of wheat who were shot by their own wheat-stacks,
For those growers of bread who were sent to the ice-locked wastes.
And their flesh remembers the fields.

For those denounced by their smug, horrible children
For a peppermint-star and the praise of the Perfect State,
For all those strangled, gelded or merely starved
To make perfect states; for the priest hanged in his cassock,
The Jew with his chest crushed in and his eyes dying,
The revolutionist lynched by the private guards
To make perfect states, in the names of the perfect states.

For those betrayed by the neigbours they shook hands with
And for the traitors, sitting in the hard chair
With the loose sweat crawling their hair and their fingers restless
As they tell the street and the house and the man’s name.
And for those sitting at the table in the house
With the lamp lit and the plates and the smell of food,
Talking so quietly; when they hear the cars
And the knock at the door, and they look at each other quickly
And the woman goes to the door with a stiff face,
      Smoothing her dress.
“We are all good citizens here. We believe in the Perfect State.”

And that was the last time Tony or Karl or Shorty came to the house
And the family was liquidated later.
It was the last time.
We heard the shots in the night
But nobody knew next day what the trouble was
And a man must go to his work.
So I didn’t see him
For three days, then, and me near out of my mind
And all the patrols on the streets with their dirty guns
And when he came back, he looked drunk, and the blood was on him.

For the women who mourn their dead in the secret night,
For the children taught to keep quiet, the old children,
The children spat-on at school.
For the wrecked laboratory,
The gutted house, the dunged picture, the pissed-in well
The naked corpse of Knowledge flung in the square
And no man lifting a hand and no man speaking.

For the cold of the pistol-butt and the bullet’s heat,
For the ropes that choke, the manacles that bind,
The huge voice, metal, that lies from a thousand tubes
And the stuttering machine-gun that answers all.

For the man crucified on the crossed machine guns
Without name, without ressurection, without stars,
His dark head heavy with death and his flesh long sour
With the smell of his many prisons – John Smith, John Doe,
John Nobody – oh, crack your mind for his name!
Faceless as water, naked as the dust,
Dishonored as the earth the gas-shells poison
And barbarous with portent.
      This is he.
This is the man they ate at the green table
Putting their gloves on ere they touched the meat.
This is the fruit of war, the fruit of peace,
The ripeness of invention, the new lamb,
The answer to the wisdom of the wise.
And still he hangs, and still he will not die
And still, on the steel city of our years
The light falls and the terrible blood streams down.

We thought we were done with these things but we were wrong.
We thought, because we had power, we had wisdom.
We thought the long train would run to the end of Time.
We thought the light would increase.
Now the long train stands derailed and the bandits loot it.
Now the boar and the asp have power in our time.
Now the night rolls back on the West and the night is solid.
Our fathers and ourselves sowed dragon’s teeth.

Our children know and suffer the armed men.

Continue reading...

One Response to Litany for Dictatorships

  • Brilliant connect Mr. McClarey.

    The darkness will ALWAYS be overcome by the light! It’s time is fleeting and it knows it. In it’s short time it will work feverishly to convince the sleeping multitudes that good is bad. That dark is light. But as time passes these lovers of darkness will be overwhelmed by the sincerity and mildness of children. Children with the Light of God will win.
    They will be accompanied by invisible souls, aborted children, and the darkness that resides in the hearts of evil men and women will be confronted by these children of light. “..the boar and the asp have power in our time.”

    But that time will be shortened!

    Pray the Holy Rosary every day.
    In the end Our Lady’s Immaculate Heart will triumph! New forms of oppression will be annihilated!
    Jesus I Trust in You.

The Last Stand of the Black Horse Troop

Saturday, April 11, AD 2015

Something for the weekend.  I Am a Rebel Soldier sung by Waylon Jennings.  Stephen Vincent Benet in his epic poem on the Civil War, John Brown’s Body, follows, in part of his poem, a Confederate Georia cavalry unit in the Army of Northern Virginia, the Black Horse Troop.  On the way to Appomattox they met their destiny guarding the rear of their expiring Army.  I have always thought this was a fitting tribute to the men of that Army who endured to the end.

Wingate wearily tried to goad
A bag of bones on a muddy road
Under the grey and April sky
While Bristol hummed in his irony
“If you want a good time, jine the cavalry!
Well, we jined it, and here we go,
The last event in the circus-show,
The bareback boys in the burnin’ hoop
Mounted on cases of chicken-croup,
The rovin’ remains of the Black Horse Troop!
Though the only horse you could call real black
Is the horsefly sittin’ on Shepley’s back,
But, women and children, do not fear,
They’ll feed the lions and us, next year.
And, women and children, dry your eyes,
The Southern gentleman never dies.
He just lives on by his strength of will
Like a damn ole rooster too tough to kill
Or a brand-new government dollar-bill
That you can use for a trousers-patch
Or lightin’ a fire, if you’ve got a match,
Or makin’ a bunny a paper collar,
Or anythin’ else–except a dollar.

Old folks, young folks, never you care,
The Yanks are here and the Yanks are there,
But no Southern gentleman knows despair.
He just goes on in his usual way,
Eatin’ a meal every fifteenth day
And showin’ such skill in his change of base
That he never gets time to wash his face
While he fights with a fury you’d seldom find
Except in a Home for the Crippled Blind,
And can whip five Yanks with a palmleaf hat,
Only the Yanks won’t fight like that.

Continue reading...

3 Responses to The Last Stand of the Black Horse Troop

  • And with these things, bury the purple dream
    Of the America we have not been,
    The tropic empire, seeking the warm sea,
    The last foray of aristocracy
    Based not on dollars or initiative
    Or any blood for what that blood was worth
    But on a certain code, a manner of birth,
    A certain manner of knowing how to live,
    The pastoral rebellion of the earth
    Against machines, against the Age of Steam,
    The Hamiltonian extremes against the Franklin mean,
    The genius of the land
    Against the metal hand,
    The great, slave-driven bark,
    Full-oared upon the dark,
    With gilded figurehead,
    With fetters for the crew
    And spices for the few,
    The passion that is dead,
    The pomp we never knew,
    Bury this, too.

  • It is a crime Tom that a great poet like Stephen Vincent Benet is almost completely forgotten today.

  • Don, I am greatly indebted to you.

    I had no idea of who Stephen Vincent Benet was until you posted this here. I found the entire poem online here (http://gutenberg.net.au/ebooks07/0700461.txt) and read about half of it – I will read it in its entirety later. I did some more research on him and found he had written By the Waters of Babylon. I was stunned! I had read that short story when I was nine or ten, and while it made an immense impression on me I did not recall the title or the author. I now have it on my kindle – thanks to you.

Abraham Lincoln’s Ghost Walks at Midnight

Thursday, October 30, AD 2014

Tragic is the only word to describe the life of Vachel Lindsay.  Perhaps the greatest of the poets of Illinois, he deserves his appellation the Prairie Troubador, his life was haunted by mental instability and money woes.  He committed suicide at age 52 in 1931 by drinking a bottle of Lysol.  His last words indicated the paranoia that beset him at the end:  “They tried to get me; I got them first!”

A sad life, but a great talent.  In 1914, anguished by the outbreak of World War I, he wrote this haunting homage to Lincoln:

Continue reading...

5 Responses to Abraham Lincoln’s Ghost Walks at Midnight

  • Vachel Lindsay: Had he truly followed Abraham Lincoln.

  • Perhaps the following thoughts of Donald Hankey, an English soldier, written from the trenches on June 1, 1915, would be an antidote to the pathos of Vachel Lindsay:

    “I have seen with the eyes of God. I have seen the naked souls of men, stripped of circumstance. Rank and reputation, wealth and poverty, knowledge and ignorance, manners and uncouthness, these I saw not. I saw the naked souls of men. I saw who were slaves and who were free; who were beasts and who were men; who were contemptible and who honourable. I have seen with the eyes of God. I have seen the vanity of the temporal and the glory of the eternal. I have despised comfort and honoured pain. I have understood the victory of the Cross. O Death, where is thy sting?”

    Donald Hankey was killed in action on October 26, 1916.

  • “If you are wounded, ‘Blighty’; if killed, the Resurrection!”

    What a fascinating man Hanky was Ginny!

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Donald_Hankey

  • Indeed, in the state immediately to the east of Our President’s Adopted Home (“Indiana, the Gateway to Illinois”) once walked and recited The Bard of Alamo (not The Alamo, but the town of Alamo, Indiana) James Buchanan Elmore.
    .
    His ode to that purest of Midwestern flora, “Sassafras,” is ensconced on the hearts of all who once strode the halls of Wabash College:
    .
    “In the spring of the year,
    When the blood is too thick,
    There is nothing so rare
    As the sassafras stick.
    It cleans up the liver,
    It strengthens the heart,
    And to the whole system
    New life doth impart.
    Sassafras, oh, sassafras!
    Thou art the stuff for me!
    And in the spring I love to sing,
    Sweetest sassafras, of thee.”
    .
    In the event of over-erudition, Mr. Elmore’s compositions are a sure cure. Here are his assembled works:
    .
    http://webapp1.dlib.indiana.edu/inauthors/view?docId=VAC0990&chunk.id=d1e931&brand=ia-books&doc.view=0&anchor.id=

  • Who couldn’t love a poet who wrote this line, taken from his obituary:

    “Few older people in western Indiana have not repeated to their children and grandchildren passages from “The Monon Wreck” with its climatic “Cut, Oh Cut My Leg Away!””

    http://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GRid=7919799

Cities and Thrones and Powers

Thursday, February 13, AD 2014

 

Like flowery fields the nations stand

Pleased with the morning light;

The flowers beneath the mower’s hand

Lie withering ere ‘tis night.

Isaac Watts,  Our God, Our Help in Ages Past

 The twenty-ninth in my ongoing series examining the poetry of Rudyard Kipling. The other posts in the series may be read here, here , here , here, here , here, here, here, here, here, here, here , here, here, here , here, here, here , here, here, here , here, here , here , here, here, here and here.

Kipling will always be remembered as a British patriot and a lover of the British Empire.  Both of those facts are true enough, although Kipling was not blind to the faults of his nation and its empire, but Kipling also had the ability, shared by some true great artists, to step momentarily outside his time and place to make some imperishable commentary on the human condition.  Kipling did it in his poem Recessional, written on the occasion of Queen Victoria’s diamond jubilee, which rather than a rah, rah celebration of Great Britain, envisages a time when the glory and power of Britain and its Empire will have passed, one with Nineveh and Tyre, and a stark warning for his British contemporaries to use the power they currently possessed responsibly, and prays to God for mercy upon them.  This unexpected Jeremiad contains what I have always regarded as the most moving lines of poetry ever written by a secular poet:

 

The tumult and the shouting dies;
   The Captains and the Kings depart:   
Still stands Thine ancient sacrifice,
   An humble and a contrite heart.
Kipling returned to the theme of the transitory nature of earthly power in Puck of Pook’s Hill, 1906.  Ostensibly a children’s book combining History and Fantasy, Kipling put into it some of his deepest thinking on many subjects, including the poem Cities and Thrones and Powers which reminds us of the the fact that on this globe civilizations rise and fall like the flowers that bloom and die, but that like flowers the civilizations return in new guises:
Continue reading...

8 Responses to Cities and Thrones and Powers

  • Thanks for this overflowing cup of hope.

    “but with bold countenance, and knowledge small, Esteems her seven days’ continuance To be perpetual.”

    Personally this stanza relates precisely to the left. Bold faced yet lacking in the ways of natural law, ( moral knowledge or implementation of that knowledge. Even a respect of those who do.)

    And fooling themselves that there enlightened actions will stand the test of time.

  • psalm 103

    15 As for mortals, their days are like grass;
    they flourish like a flower of the field;
    16 for the wind passes over it, and it is gone,
    and its place knows it no more.
    17 But the steadfast love of the Lord is from everlasting to everlasting
    on those who fear him,
    and his righteousness to children’s children,
    18 to those who keep his covenant
    and remember to do his commandments.

  • Anzylne.

    This is exactly why I love to frequent TAC. It’s the uplifting comments affirmations and perfectly placed scriptural quotes that fill my heart.

    You have done so just now. 🙂

    Thank you.
    A simple seeker of truth appreciates your faith and insights.

  • I love the Poem “If” by Rudyard Kipling.

    “If you can keep your head when all about you
    Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,
    If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
    But make allowance for their doubting too;
    If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
    Or being lied about, don’t deal in lies,
    Or being hated, don’t give way to hating,
    And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise”

    The first verse is my favorite.

    It always reminds me of my dad- he always taught his children to hold their head up high and just try. He still reminds us to this day.

  • Ez.

    Beautiful truths.
    Thanks for sharing.
    For good and bad his words ring clear in my past and the hope of today is to do as your father asked; “..to hold your head up high and just try.”
    Peace.

  • Phillip, yes Kipling’s words are very beautiful.

    We are all struggling in, what Mr McClarey refers to often, as “in this vale of tears.”

    Some more than others. Thank God for the hope of heaven.

    God Bless you always Phillip.

  • Pingback: The Answer | The American Catholic
  • Pingback: The Answer | Almost Chosen People

Kipling for Labor Day

Monday, September 2, AD 2013

 

 

 

 

The twenty-seventh in my ongoing series examining the poetry of Rudyard Kipling. The other posts in the series may be read here, here , here , here, here , here, here, here, here, here, here, here , here, here, here , here, here, here , here, here, here , here, here , here , here and here.

Two frequent targets of Kipling’s ire over the years was Kaiser Wilhelm, who Kipling viewed as a buffoon and a menace long before World War I, and anything that smacked of socialism.  In the poem An Imperial Rescript (1890), Kipling got to attack both his bête noirs when the Kaiser unveiled a program of social reform to “help” working men.  I rather think the Kaiser’s heart was in the right place on this occasion, even if his head was not.  Kipling viewed the plan as rubbish since most men, the acolytes of Alfred. P Doolittle (see video above) excepted, work for the well-being of their families, a well-being that he thought governments would prove ill-equipped to preserve, and therefore they would work as hard as they were able for the wife and the kids.  It is an arguable point, although Kipling’s view is directly contrary to what passes for the common wisdom of our day, which could mean that Kipling might very well be correct!

 

Now this is the tale of the Council the German Kaiser decreed,
To ease the strong of their burden, to help the weak in their need,
He sent a word to the peoples, who struggle, and pant, and sweat,
That the straw might be counted fairly and the tally of bricks be set.

The Lords of Their Hands assembled; from the East and the West they drew --
Baltimore, Lille, and Essen, Brummagem, Clyde, and Crewe.
And some were black from the furnace, and some were brown from the soil,
And some were blue from the dye-vat; but all were wearied of toil.

And the young King said: -- "I have found it, the road to the rest ye seek:
The strong shall wait for the weary, the hale shall halt for the weak:
With the even tramp of an army where no man breaks from the line,
Ye shall march to peace and plenty in the bond of brotherhood -- sign!" 
Continue reading...

One Response to Kipling for Labor Day

Tomlinson Our Contemporary

Monday, July 22, AD 2013

But because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold, not hot, I will begin to vomit thee out of my mouth.

Revelations 3:16

 

 

 

The twenty-sixth in my ongoing series examining the poetry of Rudyard Kipling. The other posts in the series may be read here, here , here , here, here , here, here, here, here, here, here, here , here, here, here , here, here, here , here, here, here , here, here , here and here.  For a man who was not conventionally religious, it is surprising how many of Kipling’s poems deal with religious themes.  Here he deals with the fate of the soul of Tomlinson who floated through life and did almost no good and almost no ill.  He fits to the full T.S. Eliot’s hollow men and CS Lewis’s chestless men.

CS Lewis in his essay Screwtape Proposes a Toast in 1959 tells us how common this type of individual is in the modern world:

Your dreaded Principal has included in a speech full of points something like an apology for the banquet which he has set before us. Well, gentledevils, no one blames him. But it would be in vain to deny that the human souls on whose anguish we have been feasting tonight were of pretty poor quality. Not all the most skillful cookery of our tormentors could make them better than insipid.

Oh, to get one’s teeth again into a Farinata, a Henry VIII, or even a Hitler! There was real crackling there; something to crunch; a rage, an egotism, a cruelty only just less robust than our own. It put up a delicious resistance to being devoured. It warmed your inwards when you’d got it down.

Instead of this, what have we had tonight? There was a municipal authority with Graft sauce. But personally I could not detect in him the flavour of a really passionate and brutal avarice such as delighted one in the great tycoons of the last century. Was he not unmistakably a Little Man — a creature of the petty rake-off pocketed with a petty joke in private and denied with the stalest platitudes in his public utterances — a grubby little nonentity who had drifted into corruption, only just realizing that he was corrupt, and chiefly because everyone else did it? Then there was the lukewarm Casserole of Adulterers. Could you find in it any trace of a fully inflamed, defiant, rebellious, insatiable lust? I couldn’t. They all tasted to me like undersexed morons who had blundered or trickled into the wrong beds in automatic response to sexy advertisements, or to make themselves feel modern and emancipated, or to reassure themselves about their virility or their “normalcy,” or even because they had nothing else to do. Frankly, to me who have tasted Messalina and Cassanova, they were nauseating. The Trade Unionist stuffed with sedition was perhaps a shade better. He had done some real harm. He had, not quite unknowingly, worked for bloodshed, famine, and the extinction of liberty. Yes, in a way. But what a way! He thought of those ultimate objectives so little. Toeing the party line, self-importance, and above all mere routine, were what really dominated his life.

But now comes the point. Gastronomically, all this is deplorable. But I hope none of us puts gastronomy first. Is it not, in another and far more serious way, full of hope and promise?

Consider, first, the mere quantity. The quality may be wretched; but we never had souls (of a sort) in more abundance.

And then the triumph. We are tempted to say that such souls — or such residual puddles of what once was soul — are hardly worth damning. Yes, but the Enemy (for whatever inscrutable and perverse reason) thought them worth trying to save. Believe me, He did. You youngsters who have not yet been on active duty have no idea with what labour, with what delicate skill, each of these miserable creatures was finally captured.

The difficulty lay in their very smallness and flabbiness. Here were vermin so muddled in mind, so passively responsive to environment, that it was very hard to raise them to that level of clarity and deliberateness at which mortal sin becomes possible. To raise them just enough; but not that fatal millimetre of “too much.” For then, of course, all would possibly have been lost. They might have seen; they might have repented. On the other hand, if they had been raised too little, they would very possibly have qualified for Limbo, as creatures suitable neither for Heaven nor for Hell; things that, having failed to make the grade, are allowed to sink into a more or less contented subhumanity forever.

Kipling wrote Tomlinson in 1891 and unfortunately his Tomlinson was a forerunner of a type all too common today.  God did not bring us into this world so we could spend our days in indifference and ennui, wasting both our time and our lives.  The poem has a comedic tone, but I have always regarded it as perhaps Kipling’s most damning indictment of his time and ours.

 

 

Now Tomlinson gave up the ghost in his house in Berkeley Square,
And a Spirit came to his bedside and gripped him by the hair —
A Spirit gripped him by the hair and carried him far away,
Till he heard as the roar of a rain-fed ford the roar of the Milky Way:
Till he heard the roar of the Milky Way die down and drone and cease,
And they came to the Gate within the Wall where Peter holds the keys.

Continue reading...

4 Responses to Tomlinson Our Contemporary

Memoriae Positum

Thursday, July 18, AD 2013

(Reposted from 2012.)

 He leads for aye the advance,

 Hope’s forlorn-hopes that plant the desperate good

For nobler Earths and days of manlier mood;

James Russell Lowell

Memoriae Positum, memory laid down.  The Latin phrase is a good short hand description of  what History accomplishes.  In 1864 the poet James Russell Lowell wrote a poem entitled Memoriae Positum in tribute to Colonel Robert Gould Shaw who died heroically at age 25  leading the unsuccessful assault of the 54th Massachusetts, one of the first black Union regiments, on the Confederate stronghold of Fort Wagner at Charleston, South Carolina on July 18th, 1863.  The poem predicts that Shaw’s memory will live forever and feels sorrow only for those, unlike Shaw, who are unwilling or unable to risk all for their beliefs.  It is a poem completely out of step with the predominant sentiments of our day which seem to value physical survival and enjoyment above everything else.  Here is the text of the poem:

Continue reading...

One Response to Memoriae Positum

Boots

Friday, June 7, AD 2013

The twenty-fifth in my ongoing series examining the poetry of Rudyard Kipling. The other posts in the series may be read here, here , here , here, here , here, here, here, here, here, here, here , here, here, here , here, here, here , here, here, here , here, here and here.  Kipling often wrote in his poems about the British Army and celebrated the courage and endurance of the average British soldier.  However, he never romanticized war, viewing it as a dirty, albeit often necessary, business.  Few poems have better illustrated the endless tedium and ennui of war better than the poem Boots written in 1903 after the Boer War had concluded.  The use of repetition in the poem skillfully conveys an endless and exhausting march.  Ironically, it was set to music and a poem about the tedium of military service became a music hall favorite.

Continue reading...

4 Responses to Boots