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.

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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.

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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.

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