The Song Against Songs

The song of the sorrow of Melisande
Is a weary song and a dreary song,
The glory of Mariana’s grange
Had got into great decay,
The song of the Raven Never More
Has never been called a cheery song,
And the brightest things in Baudelaire
Are anything else but gay.

But who will write us a riding song,
Or a hunting song or a drinking song,
Fit for them that arose and rode
When day and the wine were red?
But bring me a quart of claret out,
And I will write you a clinking song,
A song of war and a song of wine
And a song to wake the dead.

The song of the fury of Fragolette
Is a florid song and a torrid song,
The song of the sorrow of Tara
Is sung to a harp unstrung,
The song of the cheerful Shropshire Lad
I consider a perfectly horrid song,
And the song of the happy Futurist
Is a song that can’t be sung.

But who will write us a riding song
Or a fighting song or a drinking song,
Fit for the fathers of you and me,
That knew how to think and thrive?
But the song of Beauty and Art and Love
Is simply an utterly stinking song,
To double you up and drag you down
And damn your soul alive.

— The Flying Inn (1914).

Published in: on March 20, 2013 at 5:08 pm  Comments (2)  

Popular and pugnacious

The obvious thing to protect an ideal is a religion. The obvious thing to protect the ideal of marriage is the Christian religion. And for various reasons, which only a history of England could explain (though it hardly ever does), the working classes of this country have been very much cut off from Christianity. I do not dream of denying, indeed I should take every opportunity of affirming, that monogamy and its domestic responsibilities can be defended on rational apart from religious grounds. But a religion is the practical protection of any moral idea which has to be popular and which has to be pugnacious. And our ideal, if it is to survive, will have to be both.

— Eugenics and Other Evils  (1922).

Published in: on March 13, 2013 at 1:06 pm  Leave a Comment  

“All men are equal”

For religion all men are equal, as all pennies are equal, because the only value in any of them is that they bear the image of the King. This fact has been quite insufficiently observed in the study of religious heroes. Piety produces intellectual greatness precisely because piety in itself is quite indifferent to intellectual greatness. The strength of Cromwell was that he cared for religion. But the strength of religion was that it did not care for Cromwell; did not care for him, that is, any more than for anybody else. He and his footman were equally welcomed to warm places in the hospitality of hell. It has often been said, very truly, that religion is the thing that makes the ordinary man feel extraordinary; it is an equally important truth that religion is the thing that makes the extraordinary man feel ordinary.

— Charles Dickens (1906).

Published in: on March 6, 2013 at 8:49 am  Comments (1)