The Lost Art of Aphorism

Clyde Wilson is doing his best to revive it:

Some of President Bush’s advisors have admitted that the Iraq War was based on “faulty intelligence.” They have really got that right.


How large is the majority of Americans who think that the blasphemous and bloodthirsty “Battle Hymn of the Republic” is a Christian song? How many think that the federal government flag belongs naturally in a church sanctuary?

Speaking of the battle hymn, here are the words Mark Twain thought would best suit the melody and sentiment:

Mine eyes have seen the orgy of the launching of the Sword;
He is searching out the hoardings where the stranger's wealth is stored;
He hath loosed his fateful lightnings, and with woe and death has scored;
His lust is marching on.

I have seen him in the watch-fires of a hundred circling camps;
They have builded him an altar in the Eastern dews and damps;
I have read his doomful mission by the dim and flaring lamps–
His night is marching on.

I have read his bandit gospel writ in burnished rows of steel:
"As ye deal with my pretensions, so with you my wrath shall deal;
Let the faithless son of Freedom crush the patriot with his heel;
Lo, Greed is marching on!"

We have legalized the strumpet and are guarding her retreat;*
Greed is seeking out commercial souls before his judgement seat;
O, be swift, ye clods, to answer him! be jubilant my feet!
Our god is marching on!

In a sordid slime harmonious Greed was born in yonder ditch,
With a longing in his bosom–and for others' goods an itch.
As Christ died to make men holy, let men die to make us rich–
Our god is marching on.


2 thoughts on “The Lost Art of Aphorism

  1. Paul Cella April 11, 2006 / 2:51 pm

    Oh come on. Is there no room for sentiment and exaggerated legend in a nation’s tradition? Shall we cast out all the Crusader hymns that linger in our hymnals because they, in addition to being Christians, were also soldiers?

  2. Daniel McCarthy April 13, 2006 / 2:53 am

    What does the Battle Hymn of the Republic have to do with Christianity? It’s not as if Northern forces were trying to free Jerusalem.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s