Saturday, July 19, 2014

The papers are calling for stern measures

I find it increasingly difficult to believe
that our absolutely endless calls for the
defense of civilisation against peoples un-
sympathetic with our policies in the world,
are motivated by any taste for civilisation
at all. If this were a motive, I'd have ex-
pected The Washington Post today, instead
acts, to give the broadest publication pos-
sible to the celebration of a text rebutting
everything they say:

  Dear Ladies [the Blount sisters],
  You have here all the fruit Mr
  Dancastle's garden affords, that
  I could find in any degree of
  ripeness. They were on the trees
  at eleven o'clock this morning,
  and I hope will be with you be-
  fore night. Pray return, sealed
  up by the bearer, every single bit
  of paper that wraps them up; for
  they are the only copies of this
  part of Homer. If the fruit is not
  as good as I wish, let the gallantry
  of this wrapping paper make up for     it.

  I am yours: 
  [unsigned; he is 26]

    Unmatch'd our force, unconquer'd is our hand:
    Who shall the sovereign of the skies controul?
    Not all the Gods that crown the starry pole
    Your hearts shall tremble, if our arms we take,
    And each immortal nerve with horrour shake.
    For thus I speak, and what I speak shall stand,
    What pow'r soe'er provokes our lifted hand,
    On this our hill no more shall hold his place,
    Cut off, and exil'd from th'aethereal race.

I tire mightily of the generations'
waste upon the self-seeking fantasy
of having our way - wherever we may
wish to savour it, that is. At the
same time, the brightest ornaments
of our way only herald constantly a
civilisation truly to be championed,
in homes and schools and councils
from the lowest to the highest known.

The story of the disfranchised Eng-
lish Catholic crippled scribe's re-
freshment of the Iliad bears space,
if for nothing else, its astounding
compilation on scraps that doubled
as harbingers of cherries. Our pa-
pers, I think, need to learn what 
to save.

Edith Sitwell
Alexander Pope
op. cit.

Alexander Pope
The Iliad of Homer
  VIII, 560-569
op. cit.

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