Here and Round Us

For a change of pace, Michael Copeland sends this Counterjihad poem.

Here and Round Us

by Michael Copeland

Invited in as a voter base by the Left,
Keeping their language, customs, and multiple wives,
Advised they could live off welfare, most of them do:
By postal voting fraud they elect their own.

Wilfully driving our teachers out of the schools,
They bully our children — some even ending their lives —
Ensnare our under-age girls as sexual slaves,
And attack our boys: Kriss Donald was tortured to death.

Inflicting on all of us meat that was cruelly slaughtered,
Expressing their strength in aggressive and menacing crowds,
They threaten and drive our people out of the towns,
And settle together to form their apartheid state.

They openly curse police and abuse the State,
Imposing by force their unconstitutional rules.
Misleadingly feeding the press with deliberate lies,
They blacken and smear any writers who tell the truth.

The texts they recite instruct them to ambush and kill us.
We are their enemy: this is their “Realm of War”.
Commanded to view us with hatred as lower than beasts,
They’re permitted to use deception, and lie to us all.

Disclaiming loyalty here to our state and laws,
Their men conspire to do killings at home and abroad:
They scheme and plan to murder with home-made bombs.
The intention is clear that we walk in fear of our lives.

They are here and round us.

For previous essays by Michael Copeland, see the Michael Copeland Archives.

We Could Do Nothing, Being Sold

From time to time Saturday is Poetry Day here at Gates of Vienna, and today seems an appropriate occasion — given that it’s the first Saturday since the Investiture of the Puppet — to repost an old favorite by Edwin Muir. I’ve posted it at least twice in the past, but it’s worth revisiting.

I don’t know why people are complaining about the legitimacy of last November’s election. I mean, we got the best election money can buy* — what’s not to like?

As a matter of interest, I memorized this poem for my O-Level examinations when I attended the High School in Harrogate. Except for the odd preposition here and there, the text in my head seems to be intact some fifty-three years later:

The Castle
by Edwin Muir

All through that summer at ease we lay,
And daily from the turret wall
We watched the mowers in the hay
And the enemy half a mile away —
They seemed no threat to us at all.

For what, we thought, had we to fear
With our arms and provender, load on load,
Our towering battlements, tier on tier,
And friendly allies drawing near
On every leafy summer road?

Our gates were strong, our walls were thick,
So smooth and high, no man could win
A foothold there, no clever trick
Could take us, have us dead or quick.
Only a bird could have got in.

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The Old Gods, Passing On

Years and years ago, in a happier time, Saturday at Gates of Vienna was either Ranting Day or Poetry Day, depending on my mood. I still like to rant, and I still enjoy poetry, but I usually don’t have time to do either on a Saturday. Nevertheless, I feel compelled to post the poem below, which was lost to me many decades ago.

It was written by the late science fiction writer L. Sprague de Camp. I read it when it was first published in The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction in the issue of December 1966. I was fifteen at the time, and it made a profound impression on me, so much so that I could remember chunks of it verbatim more than fifty years later.

The intensification of the Culture Wars over the last ten years or so brought this poem to mind, and I wished I had the text of it so that I could post it. Since the advent of the Internet I have searched for it occasionally, but to no avail. Then a few days ago I finally found it in an online archive. There were a few transcription errors resulting from the scanning and OCR process, but those were easy to fix.

As G.K. Chesterton famously said: “When men choose not to believe in God, they do not thereafter believe in nothing, they then become capable of believing in anything.”

That’s why we should fear the gods to come:

The Gods

by L. Sprague de Camp

The ghosts of gods were marching down the hallway of the past;
The shuffle of their footsteps woke me from my sleep at last;
I stared into the darkness, and I shuddered as they passed.

A grim and one-eyed Odin strode, and hammer-wielding Thor,
And there were golden-bearded Zeus and Ares, god of war,
And Mithra, Ler, Ganesha, Ra, Shamash, and many more.

I looked on Quetzalcoatl’s plumes and Loki’s hair of fire;
Along with Krishna’s flute I heard Apollo’s twanging lyre;
I caught a wink from Pan and witnessed Ishtar’s fierce desire.

Just then a funny, ibis-headed godlet caught my eye.
“Come here and tell me, Thoth!” I called. The bird-head wafted nigh.
“What means this rout of deities? Where go they hence, and why?”‘

“As you create us, you destroy us,” said the long-billed wight,
“And those that you’ve discarded here have yielded up their might;
“They’re bound for non-existence in the quiet lands of night.”

“And what of those who stand aloof — the four with beards?” I cried.
“They’re Christ and Yahweh, Marx and Lenin,” Thoth the Wise replied.
“Although these four are worshiped now, they will not long abide.”

“Will earth be godless, then?” I said, and Thoth responded: “Nay!
“You’ll make more gods, in name of whom to burn and maim and slay.”
“What sort of gods? Abstractions pale, or bloodless theories, say?”

But Thoth of Egypt turned away and went in silence dumb.
I thought of Venus’ bosom, heard afar Damballa’s drum.
And wept the old gods, passing on, and feared the gods to come.

Demonstration Against Coronavirus Restrictions in Düsseldorf

The following video was recorded yesterday in the German city of Düsseldorf during a citizens’ protest against mandatory facemasks and other restrictions imposed due to the Wuhan Coronavirus. It features excerpts from various speeches, interviews with the participants, and an anti-mask poem recited by a theatrically-inclined woman.

Many thanks to MissPiggy for the translation, and to Vlad Tepes and RAIR Foundation for the subtitling:

Video transcript:

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All That Vanished Glory


(Click to enlarge)

The central preoccupation of Americans — those who are literate enough to be preoccupied with history — is the Civil War, a.k.a. the War Between the States, a.k.a. the Recent Unpleasantness. The degree of preoccupation varies according to the distance between where one lives and the areas where most of the fighting took place. Since Virginia is the state where most of the battles were fought, any Virginia family — black or white — of sufficiently long lineage can tell you stories that have been passed down from generation to generation for a century and a half.

Mind you, I’m not talking about the hysterical preoccupation with “racism”, “slavery”, and “oppression” that is raging in the land as I write these words. I’m talking about a deep and abiding interest in the tragic years 1861-1865 generated by the impact they had on one’s family and environment.

I wrote about such matters in my poem “Sayler’s Creek” (the full text is here), which opens with these stanzas:

There is too much history here in Virginia;
we are drowning in its muddy flood.
Every April sweeps its pontoons from their moorings
on the North Fork of the Shenandoah
with Federal soldiers watching helplessly from the bank.
Every pitcher toeing the mound
scuffs up a lode of Minié balls.
A metal detector swept over any ravine
uncovers the belt buckles and canteens
urgently shed by fleeing infantry.
A faded daguerreotype of General Lee
stares down from every wall,
a stern reminder of all that vanished glory.

The top drawer of every dusty dresser
in every second-hand shop
opens to reveal a brittle bundle of worthless banknotes.
Everyone’s great-great-uncle Theophrastus
led the charge at the Crater.

That poem was written in 1996, when one could still see photographs of General Lee here and there in public places. Those days are gone, alas. A rearguard action is even now being fought against the removal of his statue from Monument Avenue in Richmond, but the cause is just as lost as it was the spring of 1865. The Wokerati will prevail. The last depictions of Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson will eventually be erased from public view in the Commonwealth, no matter what the average Virginia citizen might think of the matter. All objective accounts of Confederate history will be removed from high school and university curricula. The stories will be passed down by word of mouth only. The artifacts and written accounts of the events of those years will be confined to private collections and family attics.

And one such attic will obviously be mine.

There are little pieces of family lore in the stanzas of my poem. My mother’s great-great uncle was famous for leading the charge at the Crater in Petersburg, but his name wasn’t Theophrastus. He was Brigadier General David Weisiger (pronounced “Wizziger”, for readers who live outside the Richmond area), and was renowned, at least in Virginia, for his heroism on that day.

I am also in possession of a brittle bundle of worthless banknotes from the period. For many years they were kept in the top drawer of Dymphna’s and my dresser.

My grandmother’s first cousin (i.e. my first cousin twice removed) was the only daughter of the eldest daughter (there were five daughters, no sons) of David Weisiger’s brother, so she inherited most of the family heirlooms from the plantation. She never married, and when she died the various items were divided among her cousins.

The largest pieces of furniture went to my uncle and my mother. The item that I coveted most was a plantation medical kit, which was a wooden cabinet with little drawers and cubbies for medicinal substances, surgical implements, etc. I remember one drawer was labeled “Opium”, and there was a dried black tarry residue at the bottom of it. I really wanted that cabinet, but it went to one of my cousins.

One of the few things I received (which I had also wanted) was an envelope full of Confederate money. I’ve scanned some of the notes to display here.

In my bundle of worthless banknotes are two hundred-dollar bills, one twenty (not shown here), eighteen Confederate tens, one Virginia ten, and three pieces of fractional scrip from the City of Richmond — 25¢ (not shown here), 30¢, and 75¢. That makes a total of $411.30, which was a lot of money in 1862, especially since it was presumably received in exchange for gold and/or silver coins. I’m certain those were sorely missed in April of 1865.

This is the back of the hundred-dollar note shown at the top of this post:


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The interest rate paid on the note was 2¢ daily, which is an APR of 7.3%.


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There’s no indication that any interest was paid on the tens and twenties.

The fractional notes issued by the City of Richmond are worn and wrinkled, indicating that they saw wide circulation. The other bills were in better shape, and may not have circulated much before coming to rest in the family strongbox.

For the higher-denomination notes, the Confederate government promised to pay the bearer the face amount on demand six months or two years (depending on the note) after a peace treaty was signed with the United States. It was hoped that the delay would allow the nascent state to accumulate enough gold and silver through taxes and tariffs to be able to pay off its promissory notes.

Alas, no peace treaty ever came. The surrender was signed by General Lee on April 9, 1865 (which day I refer to in my more sardonic moments as “the Confederate naqba”), and all those Confederate, Virginia, and Richmond banknotes suddenly became worthless pieces of paper.

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A Looter’s Life for Me

Below is JLH’s latest topical pastiche in verse form.

A Looter’s Life for Me

by JLH
With apologies to Pinocchio and other blockheads

Hi diddle-dee-dee,
A looter’s life for me.
A full face mask and a baseball bat;
I’ll show those $%&!*#s where I’m at.

Hi diddle-dee-dee,
Anonymous funding for me.
Bashing elders is lots of fun;
If they don’t fall down, away I run.
Breaking windows done with care
So none of the glass gets in my hair.
It’s so much better than going to war.
It’s not some principle we’re fighting for,
But just the fun of being rash,
And maybe looting some extra cash.

Hi diddle-dee-dome,
The basement is my home.
When I get the call to go destroy,
It is a moment of utter joy.
I leave the game of killing orcs,
And join my fellow mayhem dorks.
We maim and destroy and sometimes kill—
Slaughtering folks is such a thrill.
We’re avenging angels for some rich guy
Who hates everything that he can’t buy.

Hey diddle dee dum,
That’s where progress comes from.

One More Midnight Ride

One More Midnight Ride

by JLH, with apologies to Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Listen, people, and you shall hear
Of the coming of sickness and pain and fear.
By the 18th of April in 2020,
Folks who realize now are plenty:
How Communism as politely as you might wish
Served the world a plague on a petri dish.

It came by air, by land, by sea.
It breathed its ill on you and me.
A friendly hello and a warm embrace,
And millions were sick at a dizzying pace.
“Herd immunity” pray, what is that?
We’ll all find out in nothing flat.

“Eat, drink and be merry for tomorrow we die.”
No thanks, I’ll just stay home and get high.
In Italy, they’re singing; in Buffalo, they dance.
But six feet away and taking no chance.
Music reaches further than germs on the air.
If you have a tin ear, who said Life is fair?

The world is in lockdown, so it’s perfectly clear —
Let the prisoners out, they’ve nothing to fear.
If MS-13 should break in your door,
Just blow them away, that’s what guns are for.
Hoard toilet paper — more than enough,
So you can decorate your neighbor’s tree with the stuff.

Don’t breathe on your children; just wave as they pass.
Monopoly at six feet is a pain in the posterior.
“Meals cafeteria style—it just isn’t fair!
From six feet away, I can’t pull Sis’s hair!
“Mom! Tommy blew all his germs right at me!”
“From six feet away?” “He’s fanning them — see?’

Time to go shopping. Let’s put on face masks,
And nylon gloves for manual tasks.
Let’s all stay together — but not too close.
Six feet! When you pass someone hold your nose.
Fifteen person limit in the whole big store!
Our grouchy neighbor just went home and swore.

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Frick and Frack at Sea

To take your mind off the Chinese virus, here’s another inimitable pastiche by JLH.

Frick and Frack at Sea

by JLH (with apologies to Edward Lear)

I

Bernie and Biden were all at sea.
Their faces as green as the kelp.
They brought some money — but it was funny,
They both still needed more help.
Biden looked up at the stars above,
And sang to his mandolin:
“Oh Bernie my friend
You’re insane without end.
What an absolute kook you are.
You are,
What a nutcase from Vermont you are!”

II

Bernie said to old Joe, “It’s too bad that your Id
Is the only thing left of your mind.
If you’d done all the things you said that you did
We wouldn’t be in this bind.”
So they sailed away, for a year and a day,
To the land where the money tree grows.
And there on a hill, a Hillary stood,
With a permanently out-of-joint nose.
A nose.
A permanently out-of-joint nose.

III

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Impeachment Meets Sennacherib

We are currently in the midst of the most insane political season that I can remember. It’s not just the USA, but the impeachment circus is the Greatest Show on Earth at this point, so that’s what JLH has spotlighted in his latest pastiche.

Impeachment Meets Sennacherib

by JLH, with apologies to the shade of Lord Byron

The Democrats came down like lemmings in heat,
And the might of their anger would brook no retreat;
And the glare of their fury was like fire in the brush,
And the heat of their hate turned their minds into mush.

Like ants in an anthill when summer is warm,
Like termites mindlessly forming a swarm;
Like hyenas circling what they think is half dead.
They carelessly created their own end instead.

For the Spirit of Truth and the obvious facts
Blew through the lies and inventions so fast,
That the troika of traitors who’d chosen this task
Stood forth in the klieg lights, unaware and unmasked.

The Fatman, the Pipe Cleaner, Cruella Deville,
Who wished no one good and everyone ill,
Intoned and squeaked and flew ‘round on a broom,
Mindlessly causing their own allies’ doom.

And the iceberg of treason to sink the ship of state
Passed through Hurricane Donald to a well-deserved fate.
Its melting portends a political tsunami
To wash away the corrupt, the banal and the commie.

The Temporal Princes

In the early days of this blog, back when I was commuting to work in Richmond and was only home on weekends, Saturday was often designated Poetry Day (and when it wasn’t, it was Ranting Day, which was also fun).

Today’s poem is actually an excerpt from a much longer work by C. Day Lewis, “The Magnetic Mountain”. I’ve never seen any of the rest of the poem, so these four stanzas must be the best part. The excerpt was included in an anthology of modern verse that I was assigned to study for O-level English in the late 1960s. I memorized it back then (we had to memorize lengthy chunks of verse to quote in the exam), but I don’t own a copy of it, so I hadn’t thought of it in decades.

As I mentioned last weekend, I’ve been sorting through a big old trunk of odds and ends. Some of the memorabilia in it are more than fifty years old, and I hadn’t laid eyes on any of the stuff in more than forty years. As a result, I’ve been running into some (mostly pleasant) surprises.

This past week I encountered the first two stanzas of the poem mentioned above in that trunk. I had scribbled them from memory on the cover of a William and Mary notebook — in class, when I was bored — in about 1971. When I saw them, they seemed VERY familiar, and gradually all four stanzas came back to me. But I couldn’t remember who the poet was, so I googled a piece of the text, and found it on someone’s blog (with minor textual errors, and possibly missing some commas).

This is a superb poem. I’m glad I recovered it after all these years. It’s somewhat gloomy, but I’ve just returned from a funeral, so gloom is appropriate:

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To Our Cloying Mistresses

For a change of pace, here’s a riff by JLH on a well-known poem by the great Metaphysical poet Andrew Marvell.

To:   Nancy forever-the-Speaker Pelosi, A I-despise-my-constituents OC, “truly Illegal” Omar, Rash and-then-some Tlaib, Alyssa my-bottom-is my-best-known-feature Milano, Jane if-I-can’t-be-a world-class-beauty-I-can-be-a-world-class-jerk Fonda, and honorary “mean girls” Adam my-pencil-neck-constricts-my-thinking Schiff and Gerald they-sucked-out-my-fat-and-some-of-my-brain Nadler
 

To Our Cloying Mistresses

by JLH, with apologies to Andrew Marvell

Had we but world enough and time,
This nonsense, ladies, were less a crime.
We could leisurely propose a bill,
That just might heal the nation’s ills.
And tarry by Potomac’s rush
To declaim the nation’s debt to us.
Non-partisan, we’d find a way
To pass the tardy USMCA.
We’d debate in principle, friendship and calm
Until the conversion of all Islam.
We’d reduce our pay and also our pension
And never again give “pork” a mention.
We’d praise our nation, which is like no other
And greet new citizens as sister and brother.
We’d praise each of us of any race or station
Who freely chooses to love this nation.

But at your back you too must hear
The next election hurrying near.
Your power, as all power must,
Will shrivel up and turn to dust,
And as an hourglass’s sands,
Will trickle through your nerveless hands.
Consider, as you greatly dare:
Defeat is something no one shares.

While capable still of reasoned thought,
Compare what you “may” to what you “ought”.
And think while in the light of day,
Unlike nocturnal birds of prey,
How to squeeze yourself, if you are quick
Through the iron gate of politics.
And seek relief by setting free
Again this land of liberty.

A Cat Who Depends on Secondary Sources

This week’s edition of Dymphna’s Greatest Hits is an unusual one: not only has the poem below never been published before, but until now it had never existed except in manuscript form. It was written in pencil on a half-sheet of paper torn out of a spiral notebook. As far as I know she wrote it in the late winter of 1978-79, a few months before we met. It was the first poem by Dymphna I ever read.

Charlie was a stray cat who wandered into Dymphna’s household in Maryland and was adopted by her (probably at the behest of her kids). When she moved in here the following summer, Charlie came with her. I remember him as an amiable fellow, but he didn’t stick around very long. He hadn’t yet fully bonded with Schloss Bodissey, and it may be that the lure of the vast wilderness outside the front door was irresistible to him. In any case, a few days after he arrived he went out one morning and never returned.

Charlie was here so briefly that no photos were ever taken of him, so I used a picture of Moe instead for the header of this post. I don’t think Charlie had any black on him, but the picture will have to do.

[Moe appeared in this space a few times a quarter-century later, most notably in a heroic role in 2005 when his piteous meowing alerted his master that his mistress had fallen off a ladder picking figs and couldn’t get up.]

And now for the poem:

Conversations With Charlie

by Dymphna

Not Nietzsche…
Charlie and I discussed the weather:
Whether it would rain;
When Spring would come;
Where the mice had gone for Winter.

I sat there on the car,
Breathing the becoming air
And glad to be
With Charlie in the dark.

But Nietzsche? No…
Charlie doesn’t read him,
Except in translation,
And I have nothing
To say to a cat
Who depends on secondary sources.

Knowing Isn’t All It’s Cracked Up To Be

This week’s edition of Dymphna’s Greatest Hits requires a special explanation, because the poem featured below has never previously been published. She wrote it in the summer of 1995 as part of an extended collection that we called Therapy Poems, although its official title eventually became Intense Disclosures (which itself would require a separate essay to explain, but Wallace Stevens aficionados may recognize the reference).

Dymphna liked to say that she had been in therapy longer than Woody Allen. She had seen several therapists before I met her, but after we got together we were quite poor for almost two decades, so her opportunities for professional psychotherapeutic assistance became very infrequent.

In the mid-1990s, however, she was given the opportunity to have weekly sessions with a young psychiatrist who had just entered his residency. She was to be the central case for his thesis, or whatever it is that psychiatric residents do to achieve their final release from training and be allowed to practice. She was able to see him gratis for therapy once a week over a period of a couple of years.

She was, as she herself described it, a Difficult Patient. She knew far too much about psychology, philosophy, theology, and other esoteric subjects to be easy going for a therapist. Fortunately, her doctor was (and is) a competent, kind, considerate, and humane man, and was able to navigate the stormy seas raised by Dymphna’s psychological tempest.

Their sessions were intense, needless to say. Early in their relationship she took to writing a poem after every session, which she would then deliver to him at the start of their next meeting. At the end of his residency, when he had to terminate the therapy, she collected the poems together into a volume entitled Intense Disclosures, had it printed and bound, and gave him a copy.

To create the book, she turned all the original Word documents over to me, and I did all the formatting and indexing necessary for the print version. As a result, I have the full collection — which we always called “Therapy Poems” between ourselves until she picked out an official title — in a form that is easily accessible. “There is a Midnight” (which I posted as part of my eulogy for her), was a member of that collection, as was “Lament For My Brother”, which I posted here.

The poem below may be the best in the collection. She wrote it when she was very unhappy and angry with her therapist (as patients in psychotherapy often are). He was such a WASPy guy, with his blond hair and blue eyes, so she tweaked his nose with “To Young Dr. O’Malley From the Bi-Polar on Ward A-2”.

The poem would still be worth reading if the story ended there. However, after he had read it, he confided to her a personal detail about his life: he had recently learned that his parents had adopted him, and that his biological parents were in fact Jewish. He looked so Aryan, and had been raised a Christian, but genetically speaking, he was a Jew.

Not an old one, though. Not yet.

The poem is below the jump. By the way: “O’Malley” is not his real surname, so there’s no point in searching the lists of accredited Virginia psychiatrists to try and find him.

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The Strangulation of Democracy

For the a change of pace, here’s a new pastiche from JLH, who has a knack for this sort of thing.

The Strangulation of Democracy

by JLH
(In memoriam Sam McGee, and thanks to Robert Service)

There are strange things done in the Silicon sun
By the men who spin the gold,
And the cyber trails hold their secret tales
That could make your blood run cold.
The city lights have seen bad sights.
But the worst they ever will see:
Is not far away from San Francisco Bay,
Where they’re strangling democracy.

Now the men gathered there are from everywhere —
But they are here, we all know why.
They all play the game and their goal is the same —
A slice of the American Pie.
Oh, the wages of sin! They are raking it in.
The billions come rolling along.
To the wealthy comes power, and now is their hour
To buy the world for a song.

But it’s not simply greed, there’s also the need
To determine what’s good and what’s bad.
If you’re not in their group, then you’re out of the loop,
You’re as old as yesterday’s fad.
Join the crowd, show your face, tell us what you embrace,
Give a glimpse of your shy little soul.
This service is free, no psychiatrist’s fee,
Since you’re telling the world as a whole.

It’s a magical realm with no one at the helm.
Your entrails exposed on the ground
Attract the trolls first, and they’re not the worst;
Carrion-eaters in this place abound.
And so you’ve been shilled, your guts have been spilled,
And the vermin crept into your life.
There’s no magic spell to conquer this hell.
Just chill out and witness the strife.

Sit back and relax, pursue some fun facts,
But be careful what questions you ask.
Algorithmically speaking, the answer you’re seeking
May incite a tortuous task.
Seek President Trump, and you may soon be jumped
To trumps in the game of Whist.
Should you next try to reach for freedom of speech,
You may find yourself on a list.

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