Intentions of the Holy Father for April

Ecology and Justice. That governments may foster the protection of creation and the just distribution of natural resources.
Hope for the Sick. That the Risen Lord may fill with hope the hearts of those who are being tested by pain and sickness.

The Modern World

e.e. cummings is an amazingly sharp critic. A weird grammarian that makes Emily Dickinson look normal, and himself no saint, still he has a depth of perception that is badly needed in the Postmodern World in which we live. Following one publisher, I have coded a bad word as Greek characters. If you can't make it out, don't worry about it. If you can, don't be offended. Enjoy.


Jehovah buried, Satan dead,
do fearers worship Much and Quick;
badness not being felt as bad,
itself thinks goodness what is meek;
obey says toc,submit says tic,
Eternity's a Five Year Plan:
if Joy with Pain shall hang in hock
who dares to call himself a man?

go dreamless knaves on shadows fed,
your Harry's Tom,your Tom is Dick;
while gadgets murder squawk and add,
the cult of Same is all the chic,
by instruments,both span and spic,
are justly measured Spic and Span:
to kiss the mike if Jew turn kike
who dares to call himself a man?

loudly for Truth have liars pled,
their heels for Freedom slaves will click;
where Boobs are holy,poets mad,
illustrious punks of Progress shriek;
when Souls are outlawed,Hearts are sick,
Hearts being sick,Minds nothing can:
if Hate's a game and Love's a
who dares to call himself a man?

King Christ,this world is all aleak;
and lifepreservers there are none:
and waves which only He may walk
Who dares to call himself a man.

5 comments:

Jason said...

R,
I don't understand. Help?
Jason

Thy Handmaid's son said...

MY RESPONSE, Part I,

"Jehovah buried, Satan dead,
do fearers worship Much and Quick;"

God and the devil have died in the minds of the modern world. Nietzsche said "God is dead," and this is what he meant. Even 'religious people' nowadays don't seem to live as if God mattered. Instead, we mostly value material stuff - lots of it, efficiently delivered to us.

"badness not being felt as bad,
itself thinks goodness what is meek;"

People no longer FEEL, sense, intuit the badness of bad things, like abortion or divorce. Our consciences have grown dull. As a result, we don't even know what goodness is, either. We think nice ("meek," he calls it) is the same thing as good. Being "Christian" to most people means being good, which means being nice. So gay "marriage" seems to many people like a Christian thing to permit, for instance.

"obey says toc,submit says tic,"

"tic" and "toc" are clock sounds. So the drumbeat of time marches on, and people who claim to have the wave of the future (he wrote this in the 1930s, I think, with the rise of fascism and nazism, but it applies today, too!) demand that we all join in their schemes, and tell us that their plans are inevitable.

"Eternity's a Five Year Plan:"

The USSR and other communist governments always had these national five- and ten-year plans to modernize and industrialize and socialize their countries. Because they did not believe in God, they did not believe in heaven. Instead, they had one five-year plan after another, and each one was supposed to finally "do it," whatever it was.

"if Joy with Pain shall hang in hock"

Socialists want to get rid of suffering. But their countries only had more sufferings as a result. In the West, nowadays, we focus so much on getting rid of suffering, on everything being personalized and comfortable. As a result, we are also joyless, because joy comes from transcending and overcoming difficulties, not from being in a nice cocoon. Couch potatoes are not joyful people.

"who dares to call himself a man?"

Western society is thus made into a bunch of obedient, sheepish, cozy pansies.

Thy Handmaid's son said...

MY RESPONSE, Part II

"go dreamless knaves on shadows fed,"

A knave is a servant. We no longer have the real substance of a life worth living, but video games of adventure instead. Our aspirations ("dreams") are drained out.

"your Harry's Tom,your Tom is Dick;"

"Tom, Dick, and Harry" is an expression meaning 'everyone' and 'no one in particular.' He is saying that in the modern world, each person is taken for interchangeable with the rest. Also, "Tom is Dick," might mean what we mean when we say, "Such-and-such is dick." The word was used then as it is now, I believe.

"while gadgets murder squawk and add,"

The unsympathetic calculations of machines dominate our life so easily and so pervasively that we hardly notice it... lol, except when we are being smothered by automated systems, on the phone or the web, and cannot get through to real people.

"the cult of Same is all the chic,
by instruments,both span and spic,
are justly measured Spic and Span:
to kiss the mike if Jew turn kike
I am not sure I follow this part."

There are clearly racial overtones - especially the last part seems to be a reference about anti-semitism having a corrosive effect. I can't really say.

"who dares to call himself a man?"

"loudly for Truth have liars pled,"

Politicians, etc., loudly argue that they are in the right, while also, when it suits them, denying that right and wrong even exist, that even truth is a false concept. Lol. They are relativists, and worse, complete cynics who only want their own power.

"their heels for Freedom slaves will click;"

More irony. Heel-clicking, as soldiers under review. So the "knaves" mentioned above here think they are free while reflexively obeying.

"where Boobs are holy,poets mad,"

Again, modern culture has everything backwards, thinking a bunch of idiots are great and wonderful leaders. (Hitler as an example from his day of someone revered wrongly, Ted Kennedy or Michael Jackson from our day?) Moreover, people who can see deeper into reality ("poets") and have prophetic insight are thought to be lunatics. (He may have mean pacifists in his day, in ours we might think of homeschoolers or abortion-mill protesters.)

Thy Handmaid's son said...

MY RESPONSE, Part III

"illustrious punks of Progress shriek;
when Souls are outlawed,Hearts are sick,
Hearts being sick,Minds nothing can:"

Modern culture, either by law (as in the old Soviet Union) or by education (an aggressively materialistic darwinian view of the world) denies that humans have a soul. Even when modern people *say* that men have souls, they don't really mean it or act as if it were true. But we do have souls, and being treated as mere animals or anonymous numbers leaves us so our "hearts are sick." With our hearts out of whack, even our thinking falters "Minds nothing can," minds can do nothing. Especially our moral thinking gets overshadowed by neuroses and soul-sickness.

"if Hate's a game and Love's a [GREEK-TEXT]"

So we use hate as a political tool or a means to get what we want, or even as a pastime (folks who are never happy with anyone, or always angry at someone). Love is reduced to sex (the Greek letters spell nothing in Greek, but if sounded out, say "fuck"). e.e. cummings wrote a lot of poetry about sex, and was very concerned with the difference between "making love" and mere fornication, even if he himself didn't necessarily know where to draw the boundary, he knew it was very important. The modern world doesn't. So, "it's all about love," or "as long as you love each other," comes to mean "it's all about sex," and "you can have sex with whomever you want."

"who dares to call himself a man?"

Of course, the collapse of moral thinking and the substitution of sex acts for love have gutted Christian manhood. How many 30- and 40- and 50-year-olds live like fratboys? Our culture is weak and sickened by having so many such men.

"King Christ,this world is all aleak;
and lifepreservers there are none:"

Something bad (sin? immorality?) is gushing into our society, the whole world even, and there's no way out that the poet can see.

"and waves which only He may walk
Who dares to call himself a man."

Waves of the stuff is threatening to drown anyone and everyone. The One can only transcend ("walk" on the "waves") this muck, this sin stuff is a reference to Jesus, of course... but the fragment has a double meaning. He Who walks on the waves also firmly, clearly lived His manhood in a way that modern men don't even consider. To the modern world, manhood = being strong and getting laid, NOT being brave and giving oneself to a woman as it did in the Christian world. Of course modern manhood is a very ugly thing, which is why so many moderns (rightly) reject it. But it is not the only way to live one's manhood. "King Christ" showed a different way, and even today, one who "dares to call himself a man," might be able to live that way. How is left unspecified, but probably through recognition of sin for what it is and with genuine recourse to Jesus Christ.

One of the things I LOVE about e.e. cummings is that while his poetry is entirely unconventional in superficial ways, he has an amazing grasp of the feel of language and words. Without using a set rhyme or meter scheme, he nonetheless moves the poetry forward brilliantly and gives each word exactly the right push. The lines have a movement and cadence even without a conventional scheme.

atypicalheroine said...

Lines three and twelve are particularly striking.

Three seems to evoke Paul's caution about a seared conscience.

Twelve is wonderfully bold.