Friday, March 13, 2009

I do not approve

I do not approve of death
Unless it is sensual,
Something forbidden, ecstatic
Entered into.
A sweet desideratum and delight.
The torpidinal
Stygian kisses
Of an ageless avatar.

I will not venture into love
Unless it is secular,
Some stultifying wine or water
Astonishing intoxicant!
The vertiginal
Liquid image
Of a masterful tempter.

I cannot accept hostility
Unless it is intimate,
The fear-concealing armour of the heart
A flesh-and-bone opponent.
The original
Sinister body
Of an unabashed warrior.

first draft, January 1986;
revised a few times during the subsequent twenty-odd years


The sonnet that was here is no longer here.

It's wretched, it's bad, it makes me want to hurl. So I removed it.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

The wisdom of the Archbishop of Los Angeles

Ann Scolari: What are your thoughts on the Tridentine mass?

Cardinal Mahony: Ann: The Tridentine Mass was meant for those who could not make the transition from Latin to English [or other languages] after the Council. But there is no participation by the people, and I don't believe that instills the spirit of Christ among us.

More here.

(HT: Dyspeptic Mutterings.)

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Doggerel by a Senior Citizen

by W. H. Auden (1907-73)

Our earth in 1969
Is not the planet I call mine,
The world, I mean, that gives me strength
To hold off chaos at arm's length.

My Eden landscapes and their climes
Are constructs from Edwardian times,
When bath-rooms took up lots of space,
And, before eating, one said Grace.

The automobile, the aeroplane,
Are useful gadgets, but profane:
The enginry of which I dream
Is moved by water or by steam.

Reason requires that I approve
The light-bulb which I cannot love:
To me more reverence-commanding
A fish-tail burner on the landing.

My family ghosts I fought and routed,
Their values, though, I never doubted:
I thought their Protestant Work-Ethic
Both practical and sympathetic.

When couples played or sang duets,
It was immoral to have debts:
I shall continue till I die
To pay in cash for what I buy.

The Book of Common Prayer we knew
Was that of 1662:
Though with-it sermons may be well,
Liturgical reforms are hell.

Sex was of course -- it always is --
The most enticing of mysteries,
But news-stands did not then supply
Manichean pornography.

Then Speech was mannerly, an Art,
Like learning not to belch or fart:
I cannot settle which is worse,
The Anti-Novel or Free Verse.

Nor are those Ph.D's my kith,
Who dig the symbol and the myth:
I count myself a man of letters
Who writes, or hopes to, for his betters.

Dare any call Permissiveness
An educational success?
Saner those class-rooms which I sat in,
Compelled to study Greek and Latin.

Though I suspect the term is crap,
If there is a Generation Gap,
Who is to blame? Those, old or young,
Who will not learn their Mother-Tongue.

But Love, at least, is not a state
Either en vogue or out-of-date,
And I've true friends, I will allow,
To talk and eat with here and now.

Me alienated? Bosh! It's just
As a sworn citizen who must
Skirmish with it that I feel
Most at home with what is Real.

Monday, March 09, 2009

Music for your Monday

Great vocal! (Video, not so much.) "(Last Night) I Didn't Get to Sleep At All" by the 5th Dimension.

Marilyn McCoo is now sixty-five. (Astonishing, to one who remembers the attractive thirty-something host[ess] of the early 1980s pop-music showcase Solid Gold.)

An apparition

In Fulton J. Sheen's autobiography, Treasure in Clay, the bishop tells of a lady who approached him sometime in the late '30s or early '40s and said, "Monsignor, every time I cross Fifth Avenue I get a pain in my left leg, and the Blessed Mother appears to me and says, 'Tell Monsignor Sheen to go to Germany and convert Hitler.'"

Sheen responded, "My dear lady, it's funny you should say that, because every time I cross Fifth Avenue I get a pain in my right leg, and the Blessed Mother appears to me and says, 'Please ignore what I told that lady this morning.'"

The venerable cleric reports that "the lady went away satisfied."