"The Garden of Eden" by Erastus Salisbury Field‘‘Til We Forgot: A Lament on Recovery’ by Amy Foreman The Society July 23, 2018 Beauty, Culture, Poetry 81 Comments “. . . lest when thou hast eaten and art full . . . then thine heart be lifted up, and thou forget the Lord thy God, which brought thee forth out of the land of Egypt . . .who led thee through that great and terrible wilderness, wherein were fiery serpents, and scorpions, and drought” —Deuteronomy 8:10-15 It happened by degrees, so slow As seasons change to years, We didn’t feel the shift below, The sliding of the gears. The deprivation once we knew, The sorrow and the strain, When nothing in our field of view Could mitigate the pain, Now gone and, in its stead, a trust For blessing, favor, grace. Awakening, we rose from dust To Eden’s better place. How cautiously we tried to walk, How tentative our tread, As those recovering, with shock, From rising from the dead. But, step by step, our strength returned, And with it grew our hope. The locust years behind us, burned, The future in our scope. Success now stamped our working days And pleasure marked our path. Our journey under Heaven’s rays, No longer under wrath. So time sped by, without much thought Of skies that once were gray. ‘Til we forgot, . . . yes, we forgot . . . The God of yesterday. Amy Foreman hails from the southern Arizona desert, where she homesteads with her husband and seven children. She has enjoyed teaching both English and Music at the college level, but is now focused on home-schooling her children, gardening, farming, and writing. Her blog is theoccasionalcaesura.wordpress.com NOTE: The Society considers this page, where your poetry resides, to be your residence as well, where you may invite family, friends, and others to visit. Feel free to treat this page as your home and remove anyone here who harasses or disrespects you. Simply send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Put “Remove Comment” in the subject line and list which comment or comments you would like removed. The Society does not endorse any views expressed in individual poems or comments and reserves the right to remove any comments to maintain the decorum of this website and the integrity of the Society. Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on WhatsApp (Opens in new window)Click to email this to a friend (Opens in new window)Click to share on Pinterest (Opens in new window) 81 Responses E. V. July 23, 2018 Excellent! This piece has both a poetic soul and (to my ear) perfect meter. I enjoyed the hopeful message … with a little bit of a warning at the conclusion. This is SCP at its best! Reply Amy Foreman July 23, 2018 Thank you so much, E. V., for that very kind comment! Reply James sale July 23, 2018 A lovely poem, Amy, I think you often achieve a moving and wistful quality in your poems, and here very much so. The lines ‘yes, we forgot,/The God of yesterday’ are especially resonant. As E.V says: SCP at its best! Thank you. Reply Amy Foreman July 23, 2018 “SCP at its best” is high praise. Thank you, James. Reply Joe Tessitore July 23, 2018 An excellent poem, beautifully written by a master of the form! Bravo Amy! Reply Amy Foreman July 23, 2018 Appreciate it very much, Joe! Reply David Paul Behrens July 23, 2018 There is a nice and easy flow to this poem. Well done. Reply Amy Foreman July 23, 2018 Thank you, David. Reply Leo Yankevich July 23, 2018 Allow me to add my penny onto the mounting heap of opinion: this is North American religious verse and, as such, may find a publisher in the myriad heretical ‘zines read by blue-haired schoolmarms. It’s, of course, not my cup of tea, but you may be able to make a buck. Reply Joseph Tessitore July 23, 2018 Startling words, Leo! If they are as harsh as I fear they might be, what gives rise to them? Reply Leo Yankevich July 23, 2018 I rarely praise anyone, Joe. The poem is tin-eared: thumping and amateurish. There are phrases in this verse that irk me, such as “God of yesterday.” Deity is eternal, timeless, not a demiurge. He is and will always be. Amy’s “god” is the “god” trapped inside her head, the “god” formed in her own mind. Amy Foreman July 23, 2018 Thank you, Leo, for your thoughts. I am aware that neither my faith nor my poetry is your cup of tea. I certainly hope you do not feel under compulsion to “drink it.” Pass it by, . . . and hope for better fare tomorrow. 😉 Reply Joseph Tessitore July 23, 2018 Thanks for getting back to me, Leo – I truly appreciate it. Amy Foreman July 23, 2018 Leo, I think you somehow misunderstand the meaning of this poem, in spite of its amateurish “thumping.” You say, “There are phrases in this verse that irk me, such as “God of yesterday.”” Perhaps you also find the writer of Hebrews irksome, when he says, “Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and to day, and for ever.” The God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob (in the past) is certainly the same God I serve today (present), and is the same God who will one day judge the living and the dead (future). That is the God found within the pages of holy Scripture: the Great and Infinite “I AM.” The phrase “God of yesterday” does not infer “variableness, neither shadow of turning” on the part of God. It does not mean that God was only God yesterday. Rather, it shows the “variableness” of fallen humans, when we, like the Israelites, have “eaten and are full” and subsequently “forget the Lord [our] God,” the same God whom we relied upon and served “yesterday.” I hope that clarifies the irksome phrase. You are free to dislike my style and my faith. The only thing that matters for eternity is where you stand with the God Who, as you say, ” is and will always be.” Blessings. Reply Leo Yankevich July 23, 2018 The ghosts of William Empson, Cleanth Brooks, and I. A. Richards woke me while I lay slumbering. Me thinks they whispered this poem is goldener than the golden urn. Reply C.B. Anderson July 23, 2018 That was all very cosmic, and your poem, of course, will resonate best with those of simple faith. Leo’s faith, and my own, I must admit, are a bit more complicated. But because I am a big fan of Bluegrass Gospel music, I find your poem here much more digestible than Leo does. And though I’m sure I would disagree with both you and Leo on any number of things, this SCP venue is a big-tent operation. Reply Amy Foreman July 23, 2018 I guess faith can be as simple or as complicated as one makes it, C.B. Thanks for your thoughts. Reply Leo Yankevich July 24, 2018 I am curious, Amy, what constitutes faith? Watching Jimmy Swaggart? Do you want to live again as you, or do you want to die in Christ, and live in him? What happens here on earth will end badly, as it always has. So you won’t be eating American Wonder Bread (cotton bread, as my Polish-Lithuanian father called it) among family members. As to your poem, the first stanza is the best, not bad, actually. Joe Tessitore July 24, 2018 There are times, Leo, when the challenge reveals more than the response to it ever could. “Love one another “ seems conspicuously absent in yours. Amy Foreman July 24, 2018 Leo, I do not know if you read the Scriptures, but if you do, you will know, with me, that “faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” . . .” Through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that things which are seen were not made of things which do appear.” . . . ” But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.” Read Hebrews 11, Leo. That’s the definition of faith which I endorse, no more, and no less. Jimmy Swaggart does not constitute faith; nor does American Wonder Bread, though both might seem to have a place in your mental caricature of who I am. I have never watched Jimmy Swaggart, nor have I eaten American Wonder Bread, but if unsubstantiated, inaccurate lampoons upon the person you imagine me to be give you happiness, then I have no wish to deny you the pleasure. 😉 I am glad the opening stanza was agreeable to you. David Watt July 24, 2018 The meter and smooth flow are beyond question. Well done. Reply Amy Foreman July 24, 2018 Thank you, David! Reply Leo Yankevich July 24, 2018 Amy– “I do not know if you read the Scriptures” You really are as arrogant as you are naive. Protestants like you (and I want to stress “like you,” not all) make me laugh with your goofy sermons and primitive ugly churches. I love Emanuel Swedenborg. Do you know who he was? https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Emanuel_Swedenborg I know that in past avatars I took place in the Crusades (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Crusades) and in the Inquisition (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Inquisition). My ancestors fried many a protestant heretic at the stake. Reply Fr. Richard Libby July 24, 2018 Congratulations, Amy, on another well written poem! Reply Amy Foreman July 24, 2018 Thank you so much, Father Richard! Reply Leo Yankevich July 24, 2018 Joe Tessitore, What has “love” to do with literary criticism? I am here to help the talented young, not the untalented old. We have some fine promising poets here who need encouragement and guidance. There is no room for 40 year-old rookie quarterbacks. If you are middle-aged and write poems you had better be good. Otherwise I will Dick Butkus you: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qJzEgMhU9_Q (This is my blood 9Polish-Lithuanian. Look at his eyes.) Reply Joseph Tessitore July 24, 2018 What does “Watching Jimmy Swaggart” and “eating American Wonder Bread” have to do with literary criticism? Reply Amy Foreman July 24, 2018 Ah, . . .yes. Their presence on this thread DOES beg the question. Leo Yankevich July 24, 2018 The answer is: entertainment, irony, and honesty. There is no more bad-assed critter than Leo. I usually don’t bother writing reviews, though, as I am too great a poet. I’ve learned to organize my time Kindly read some of my reviews: http://theformalist.org/archives/196 http://theformalist.org/archives/181 http://theformalist.org/archives/200 Most critics are failed poets; I am not. James A. Tweedie July 24, 2018 Leo, you ask, “Do you want to live again as you, or do you want to die in Christ, and live in him?” The answer is, “Yes.” As far as resurrection, the Creed says, We believe in “the resurrection of the body.” The Chatechism of the Roman Catholic Church has a section on this part of the Creed. If you read the Summary page at the end of that section you will find a nice statement of what I believe (and which I suspect Amy also believes). I am very curious to know what you believe? Reply Leo Yankevich July 24, 2018 Tweedie, Let’s stick to poetry. I am well-versed in theology and philosophy (much more than you), as I once contemplated becoming a priest. And, doubtless, I would have been a great one. The desire to be resurrected is only the primitive desire to live forever as youself. Why would you want to be Tweedie again, a weak liberal ex-pastor sans a flock? Look at yourself. Read The imitation of Christ, son: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Imitation_of_Christ Reply E. V. July 24, 2018 On my exercise bike … listening to Imagine Dragons’ Whatever It Takes … reading Leo contemplated becoming a priest … nearly fell off the seat! Reply Leo Yankevich July 24, 2018 I’d have been this kind of priest:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Rg682UmUwQs Amy Foreman July 24, 2018 “If you are speaking of music…it is of all subjects my delight. There are few people in England I suppose, who have more true enjoyment of music than myself, or a better natural taste. If I had ever learnt, I should have been a great proficient.”- Lady Catherine de Bourgh in “Pride and Prejudice” Reply Amy Foreman July 24, 2018 In case this quote caused any confusion for those not familiar with Lady de Bourgh, it was in reference to the irony of using the subjunctive to confidently assert an hypothetical outcome in a situation which never happened, and for which an outcome will never be determined. Not an, “I wonder what would have happened if ‘x,'” but “Had ‘x’ happened, then, doubtless, ‘y.’ ” Counterfactual conditionals do not a truth value make. Joseph Tessitore July 24, 2018 At this point I’m finding it difficult to believe that this really IS Leo. Can the same guy who writes such exquisite poetry actually be carrying on like this? Reply Leo Yankevich July 24, 2018 Of course. Reply David Paul Behrens July 24, 2018 God is the source of all things. God is eternal. God is infinity. God is also beyond our comprehension, same as eternity and infinity. I figured all of this out before I even read the Bible, which I explored by reading it in its entirety several years ago. The Bible is filled with truth, wisdom and philosophy. I recommend it to anyone who is searching for answers. However, all books, including the Bible, are limited, written in the languages of humans, whose lives are limited, due to the fact their bodies will die. I am convinced we are all part of a universal soul (God) which has always existed and will exist forever. I am so convinced of this, I would bet my life on it. The creation of the universe resulted from the big bang, which was caused by God, in order to have something to do. After this universe dissipates into nothingness, God will create something else to do. That’s about all I can come up with. Keep the faith, Amy. You too, Leo. Reply C.B. Anderson July 24, 2018 I hope we are all still friends after this. Only God knows. But I must thank you, Leo, for unseating me as the SCP house curmudgeon. By “curmudgeon” I don’t mean someone who is willfully offensive, but someone who will speak his mind, no matter the consequences. And, Amy, I thought you defended yourself well. You are a woman among women, an Athene, a treasure and a model for all girls yet to come. Reply Amy Foreman July 24, 2018 Very kind words to me, C.B. –undeserved, but kind nonetheless. Thank you. Reply Leo Yankevich July 24, 2018 C.B., Why would I not be friends with anyone here? Protestants slight us when they ask whether we have read the Bible. These clownish rustics assume we haven’t. It’s not easy being a Polak, Dago or Catholic in America. We have been discriminated and caricatured for decades. Every Polish American is a boorish oaf, and every Italian American, Tony Soprano, in the eyes of Wonder Bread eaters. Reply Amy Foreman July 25, 2018 Please do not fear discriminatory caricature from fellow poets on the SCP, Leo. If anyone on this thread believes you are a boorish oaf, their perception has nothing to do with your Polish/Lithuanian/Italian heritage or your Catholicism. 😉 C.B. Anderson July 24, 2018 Right. I remember all those Polish jokes, mostly about screwing in lightbulbs. But have you heard this one? How many Marxists does it take to screw in a light bulb? Answer: None, because the light bulb contains within itself the seeds of its own revolution. As it happened, the best friend I had in my whole life, Bob Piwonski, was (obviously) Polish. Some eight years my senior, he was like a big brother to me. In his later years he developed a fondness for poetry, and he introduced me to Neruda and Rumi. Sadly, he no longer walks on earth. To some people he was known as “Big Bob.” In fact, I once saw him lift the engine of a small Cooper automobile engine with his bare hands. He should have been a linebacker in the NFL, but he was more of a swimmer. I expect that I shall never have another friend to whom so much of the quality of my life is owed. Many of his oldest friends were Italian, including Richie Laypo and Paul Palotti, both of whom I got to know and who accepted me into their circle. Bob’s death struck me as hard as the death of my own father. Reply Leo Yankevich July 24, 2018 Thank, C.B., for sharing that story. Now I shall share my light bulb story. In 1984, I received a full scholarship to do graduate work on the poetry of Czesław Miłosz (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Czes%C5%82aw_Mi%C5%82osz) at the Jagiellonian University (Kraków), Poland’s most prestigious university, and one of the oldest universities in Europe. Copernicus had studies there. Martial law had been declared two years earlier (1982); there was nothing to eat; the communists had ruined the economy and established an authoritarian state to keep power, which they lost in 1989. The light bulb in my dormitory room blew out. I left to buy one, but there were no stores stocked with any. All were empty, including food stores. If you were lucky you could buy bread, pâte, and Spam, which is called “English Goulash” in Polish to mock English cooking. There was only one type of beer: the one available. I snuck out at night and had to steal a bulb from a nearby socialist apartment building, the grey ugly kind seen in photos from that era. But the were babes fine. I married one. Reply Leo Yankevich July 24, 2018 Thank, C.B., for sharing that story. Now I shall share my light bulb story. In 1984, I received a full scholarship to do graduate work on the poetry of Czesław Miłosz (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Czes%C5%82aw_Mi%C5%82osz) at the Jagiellonian University (Kraków), Poland’s most prestigious university, and one of the oldest universities in Europe. Copernicus had studied there. Martial law had been declared two years earlier (1982); there was nothing to eat; the communists had ruined the economy and established an authoritarian state to keep power, which they lost in 1989. The light bulb in my dormitory room blew out. I left to buy one, but there were no stores stocked with any. All were empty, including food stores. If you were lucky you could buy bread, pâte, and Spam, which is called “English Goulash” in Polish to mock English cooking. There was only one type of beer: the one available. I snuck out at night and had to steal a bulb from a nearby socialist apartment building, the grey ugly kind seen in photos from that era. But the babes were fine. I married one. Reply James A. Tweedie July 25, 2018 Leo, it pleases me no end that you chose the path of a poet. If I wished you ill I would encourage you to share more of your theological insights, poetry, and personal insults in the SCP comment sections, but I don’t, so I won’t. Reply Leo Yankevich July 25, 2018 Tweedie boy, Because you’ll get your butt kicked. I will, though, pick you up and forgive for playing with fire. I am that merciful. Reply Joe Tessitore July 25, 2018 We can kick up a fuss (C.B. to the rescue!), but where else are we going to find a group like this, and who else would have us? Been wanting to let you know, Leo, that I’m half Polish on my mother’s side. Also am about to buy one of your books – which do you recommend I start with? Leo Yankevich July 25, 2018 Joe– I recommend: https://www.amazon.com/Journey-Late-Night-Poems-Translations/dp/1935965824 Reply Joseph Tessitore July 25, 2018 Thank you. Reply James A. Tweedie July 25, 2018 Leo, Authentic fire radiates both warmth and light. Your comments offer little evidence of either. You threaten me not with fire, but with acid. I have no need to attack you in return. Sadly, the damage being done to your reputation and credibility is self-inflicted. I wish it were otherwise. Reply Leo Yankevich July 25, 2018 I don’t care what you think, Tweedie. You are a self-ordained pastor and poetaster. I am one of the most popular and best-selling poets in the world, whether you like it or not: https://www.poemhunter.com/leo-yankevich/ Reply J. Simon Harris July 25, 2018 To bring us back around to the main topic… Amy, I really enjoyed reading this poem. Although most of the poem is metaphorical, the imagery is vivid and powerful. The language is aptly chosen and flows smoothly along. Equally apt is the quote from Deuteronomy at the start of the poem. This may be my favorite poem I’ve read from you. Reply Amy Foreman July 25, 2018 Thank you, J. Simon, for your specific and appreciative comments on “‘Til We Forgot.” I am glad you understood and valued the thought process–including the quote from Deuteronomy–behind it as well. Reply W. Israel Ebecud July 25, 2018 Lest we forget, our mission, if we accept it, is to advance the cause of English language poetry, and Ms. Foreman’s “Lest We Forget” does just that. She takes the ballad form and applies it to verses of Deuteronomy in a unique, seven-stanza poem that is remarkable in many ways. The opening, ordinary and nonchalant, is breathtaking in its quiet, earnest tone, a first person, plural point-of-view, reminiscent of T. S. Eliot, as in “Journey of the Magi”. The metaphoric mechanics of lines 3 and 4 work surprisingly well. Stanza two, as it dovetails into stanza three seems static, almost verbless, containing, as it does, the memories of pain and sorrow in their “field of view”. Stanza three opens with the abrupt “Now gone”. The situation is almost the reverse of Macbeth’s, who having had “everything” is now losing it all: “I have lived long enough: my way of life Is fall’n into the sear, the yellow leaf; And that which should accompany old age, As honour, love, odedience, troops of friends, I must not look to have; but in their stead, Curses, not loud but deep, mouth-honour, breath, Which the poor heart would fain deny, and dare not.” Note the positive listings of the two authors, “blessing, favor, grace” and “honour, love, obedience…” as well as the echoic “in its stead”. I only bring up the Shakespearean lines for comparison. In stanza three, I’m a bit unsure as to what is meant by “Eden’s better place”; but I really like the sentence, and “Awakening” is an excellent adverbial expression placed perfectly. Ms. Foreman demonstrates a remarkable talent in closing, stanzaic lines: stanza four follows chronologically, but its simile startles, requiring thought to disentangle; while stanza five continues the poem’s movement, but isolates the verb with commas for emphasis, the “locust years” another fine phrase. Now I know I am looking at the poem poetically, but there are other tacks one could take. Another literary critic could focus on the meaning of the poem, while another could emphasize the imagery (or lack thereof), and another could look at rhyme, etc. Ms. Foreman’s poem yields many possibilities. Nevertheless, continuing on, the first two lines of stanza six utilize remarkable verbs; while the parallelism of the last two lines conjoin in a verbless, striking fragment. By the way, in looking at the original Hebrew of Deuteronomy 8: 10-15, there are several parallel phrases. Because I had never thought about these particular verses, I shaped a poem from the original. Here is the unpointed admonition “Be careful!” from those lines in Hebrew: השמד, the bluntness of Hebrew always impressing me with its crisp strength, which helped give such force to Milton’s poetry. The final stanza of Ms. Foreman’s poem pulls the entire poem together from its narrator’s vantage point of no longer deeply believing in God. The poem is not spectacular, but it is impressive. It could easily be situated neatly in an anthology of English literature from Chaucer up to the present. It reminds me of an Eliotic voice in a Keatsian ballad using occasional Dickinsonian techniques. Reply Amy Foreman July 25, 2018 Bruce (W. Israel–again, another genius heteronym, picked perfectly for the situation), Thank you so very much for the time and care you gave to analyze “‘Til We Forgot.” I am honored that you deemed it worthy of your attention. The poem is, indeed, an admonition, a “Careful!” Thank you for breaking it down so thoroughly and accurately, Bruce. You are right that it contains the exact reversal of those lines in Macbeth, and yet the recovery of prosperity and health fails to be rosy here, in light of what is ultimately lost. Reply Joseph S. Salemi July 25, 2018 There is no reason at all why one shouldn’t write a poem that is informed by one’s religious beliefs and religious traditions. I’m a hard-right, reactionary, traditionalist Roman Catholic, and I frequently do it myself. The problem is when persons (either non-religious, or of other religious persuasions) try to critique a poem based on assumptions that the poet clearly doesn’t share. You can’t criticize a Catholic poem by arguing that you do not share its Catholic presuppositions, just as a Protestant poem can’t be validly criticized by arguing that Luther or Calvin or Wesley were wrong on such-and-such a theological point. You judge a poem by its success or failure AS A POEM. You judge it by its metrics, its diction, its use of tropes and figures, its metaphoric power, and its standard of excellence as compared with other great poems in the language. If we could all accept that poetry is essentially about aesthetics, we could be spared a lot of argument. Don’t worry — we can all still be vituperative and unpleasant. But at least the wrangling will be about poetic technique. What I sense sometimes here is that certain people have the Pollyanna-ish idea that all our discourse should be filled with sweetness and light and charity. This isn’t a church, dammit! Reply Joe Tessitore July 25, 2018 Leo steered this conversation away from Amy’s poem very early on, but there was nothing Pollyanna-ish in his relentless drive to do so. I’m not sure then exactly who it is you take issue with. Reply Joseph S. Salemi July 26, 2018 I’m trying not to take issue with anyone in particular. I just tried to warn against two unfortunate tendencies — the first, the tendency to focus on a poem’s content rather than on the much more important fact of HOW IT IS PUT TOGETHER; and second, the tendency to use appeals for “civility” as a way to keep debate and criticism on the rather shallow level of mutual congratulation and middle-of-the-road piety. This site differs from almost every other in the po-biz world, because it does not shy away from some very serious punching. I’m glad that many of us are friends, but quite honestly that’s not why we are here. This isn’t some stupid social media site for exchanging selfies and wishing each other Happy Birthday. There is no pressing reason for any of us to be friends with one another; we’re not here for that. We are here to discuss literary matters and literary standards. Sure, Leo Yankevich can be a very harsh critic. But isn’t that a lot better than the mutual ass-kissing and Smiley-Face fakery that goes on in all the other poetry workshops? I make no accusations against anyone here. But I have found from long experience that when people start talking piously about “civility” it is almost always a surreptitious appeal to liberal orthodoxy, and a way of silencing non-liberal opinion. Amy Foreman July 27, 2018 Au contraire, Mr. Salemi. Civility and good manners do not water down discourse; they make discourse without violence possible. If a society’s minimum standards of decency and civility in communication are abandoned, it will quickly descend into barbarism. Look at Antifa. Look at the rioting crowds beating up Trump supporters. Look at the vulgar displays put on by participants in the Women’s March, the lunacy and mayhem in our universities, where we yearly churn out thousands of uncivil communist/socialist revolutionaries. If you think a call to civility is a call to “liberal orthodoxy,” think again, Mr. Salemi. The call to civility is a traditionalist call for each of us to remember who we are and whom we represent on the Society of Classical Poets. We are not Antifa. We are not Marxist revolutionaries, speaking Paulo Freire’s language of rebellion. We have no need for vulgar, anatomical terminology in our discourse. We are intelligent, well-spoken men and women, sharp-witted, and able to express ourselves–often eloquently–through the written word. In this age of texting, trolling, and memes, we are a dying breed. As such, we need not stoop to name-calling or threats to make our points. We need not descend to the tactics of Antifa. A call to civility is a call to redeem what our culture has lost in the last century, to return the standards that have always governed the meaningful discourse of a civilized society. Samuel Adams, one of our founders, and a great admirer of Quintillian, who believed the finest rhetoric comes from a “good man speaking well” warned us over two hundred years ago: “A general Dissolution of Principles and Manners will more surely overthrow the Liberties of America than the whole Force of the Common Enemy. While the people are virtuous, they cannot be subdued; but when once they lost their Virtue they will be ready to surrender their Liberties to the first external or INTERNAL Invader.” (from a letter to James Warren, Feb. 12, 1779) Threats and abuses hurled WITHIN the membership of the SCP have already driven some away, including one of our most beloved poets, Father Richard Libby, who, because of his position as a priest, can no longer endorse or be part of a site marked by uncivil vitriol. Will the unrestrained desire of some to spew unfiltered abuse at whomever, whenever continue to destroy the integrity and beauty of the Society of Classical Poets? I certainly hope not. But we would do well to heed the warning of the Apostle Paul: “[I]f ye bite and devour one another, take heed that ye be not consumed one of another.” Amy Foreman July 25, 2018 Thank you for your thoughts, Joseph. Sweetness, light, and charity are all lovely in their place, I’m sure, but plain old civility would suffice on a poetry site. There is no reason why anyone with a decent command of the English language should be reduced to maniacal ravings and third-grade name-calling in response to nothing more than a simple poem. Such dramatic and reflexive bluster can only inflate the writer’s already overblown belief in the potency of her work. 😉 Reply Joseph S. Salemi July 27, 2018 Ms. Foreman, with all due respect to you, you are wrong. We are, right now, in the midst of a war that we are close to LOSING. You speak of us as a “dying breed.” Quite so. But we are not going to be saved by politeness and courtesy and good manners. I have seen, at plenty of other poetry sites, how that is the standard way to silence rightists and eventually turn the place into a closed shop for middle-of-the-road orthodoxy. You mention the abominable Antifa, our totally vicious universities, the crazed feminists and LBGT fanatics, the savage treatment meted out to Trump supporters. How in hell will taking to our enemies in the modulated tones of priests and ministers do anything to help us in this kind of knife fight? RINO Republicans think that can make nice to the enemy. How far has their epicene strategy gotten us? Do you know why Trump won the election? Because he tore off the veil of diplomatic niceness and civility that our liberal-left masters impose upon us as a way to maintain us in subjection to them! I don’t want us to speak in the surrender-monkey tones of a gutless Jeff Sessions. We don’t need any more polite Southern gentlemen, who smile as they negotiate our collapse in stages. We need ANGER. And yes, you are correct — anger can get nasty and out of hand. But that’s what war is. Quintilian’s comment about an orator being “a good man speaking well” has always been subject to dispute, ever since he wrote it in his Institutes. It basically expresses a lie — namely, that persons who are wicked can never be good in rhetoric, whether written or spoken. After the twentieth century, can anyone possibly still believe that Pollyanna-ish dream? If some people have opted out of this ongoing war, well — that’s their business. As the old saying goes, if you can’t stand the heat, get out of the kitchen. By the way, I recall that Christ Himself could be pretty vitriolic when He got angry at pharisees, sadducees, hypocrites, and lots of other types. And St. Paul got angry at St. Peter and told him off. Amy Foreman July 27, 2018 Showing civility in our discourse on the SCP and “making nice” to “the enemy” are not synonymous, Mr. Salemi. Surely you can see that, unless you are of the opinion that my poem, “‘Til We Forgot” is dangerous revolutionary rhetoric from the left. My appeal to civility, both now, and on another post, did not asked for “gutless, surrender-monkey tones,” ever. I asked that we refrain from vulgarity and that we speak, among ourselves, with a decency consistent with the SCP’s standard, which values “humanity’s quintessential quest for virtue over vice, epic over ephemeral, and beauty over baseness[,]” If you find this goal too Pollyanna-ish, then perhaps you are on the wrong site. When the SCP is threatened repeatedly, when individual poets and their livelihoods (!) are threatened, when anyone with a different belief system is called “heretic” and reminded that her forebears were “fried at the stake,” when anyone not in a particular clique is vilified and marginalized, then the thin veneer of civility that separates the SCP from the rest of degenerate social media has been removed, and we are reduced to what E.V. referred to as a “Tribe of Trolls.” You say we need ANGER. I ask, against what? Against “tin-eared doggerel?” Really? Is my “doggerel” such a threat that it must be met with ANGER? Am I really the enemy who needs to be taken down in a “knife fight?” With all due respect, I think you are confused about the identity of your enemy, Mr. Salemi. Our real “enemies” will have an easy time of it, when they come up against those who have already riddled one another with their own bullets. Leo Yankevich July 26, 2018 “There is no reason why anyone with a decent command of the English language should be reduced to maniacal ravings and third-grade name-calling in response to nothing more than a simple poem. ” –Amy Foreman Is not your Ad hominem attack on me just now a maniacal raving? Reply Joseph Tessitore July 26, 2018 Dear Amy, You’ve handled yourself remarkably well, through what can only be described as a very unfortunate situation. I believe that you see it for what it is. I’ll be bringing it in for a landing and hitting the delete button – not enough oxygen up here for me. Joe Reply Amy Foreman July 26, 2018 Thank you, Joe. I suppose, in the interest of fairness, I also should yield the balance of my time to the gentleman from Poland. He represents himself far better than you or I ever could. 😉 Reply Leo Yankevich July 26, 2018 What I like about you is that you have given birth to 7 children, are a fine mother and wife. However, it looks like you’re going to win the poetasteress of the year award at the Pennsylvania Review in a fair and democratic election: http://pennreview.com/2018/07/who-is-the-greatest-poetasteress-of-all-time/ Amy Foreman July 26, 2018 Thank you, Leo, for the nomination, though my delight in this historic landslide victory is slightly tempered by the knowledge that there were only two candidates. A third party would have been nice. 😉 Nevertheless, tou·ché. A hit, . . . acknowledged. May it bring you much pleasure. Leo Yankevich July 26, 2018 Amy, Aren’t there only two candidates in most elections? I wish you no harm; the poll will disappear in 2 minutes. Reply Amy Foreman July 26, 2018 No harm done, Leo . . . but don’t be surprised if I return to haunt you: “I’ll get you, my pretty . . . and your little dog, too!” Reply James Sale July 27, 2018 My dear Joseph Salemi you are a great poet, as I believe my review of your work has made abundantly clear. Nothing detracts from that achievement, and neither will I change my mind about my estimate of your great poetry, whatever else I may disagree with you about. But Amy Foreman is a fine poet too, and she has also an even finer point about civility. I am very Right wing myself, but I hold it the essence of courtesy to respect others, especially on this forum. For we here – all of us, according to our degrees of power and ability – are working against the forces of post-modernism and free verse and determinism – and not against each other by needless abuse. You will recall that the adjective most used to describe Shakespeare – the greatest poet in the English language – by his contemporaries was ‘gentle’. Gentle Shakespeare – imagine that! I know you know this, so what else should I say? Reply Joseph S. Salemi July 27, 2018 James, I have never said a single word in criticism of Ms. Foreman’s poetry. Her poem is not the real subject of this argument. In fact, I wish this entire debate could be abstracted from the issue of Ms. Foreman’s poem. Granted, this site is dedicated to a very small niche-market of appreciators of formal verse. We don’t count for much in the larger world of politics and class struggle. I would love to see us totally dedicated to technical commentary and criticism of the individual poems posted here, without any political backbiting. I truly would. But the larger war swirling around us makes that well-nigh impossible. Ms. Forman asks about our “enemies.” They are everywhere, and they do not tolerate any venues or public arenas where they do not dominate discourse with their left-liberal orthodoxy. The real trouble here at SCP starts not so much with Count Yankevich (who, I admit, can be unnecessarily tough and abrasive at times) but with posters who show up to push a kind of slow-motion censorship on any poem or critique that doesn’t fit a politically correct agenda. What happens when guys like that show up? If we are polite and civil and charitable with them, they immediately push even harder and farther, using our civility as a wedge to insinuate their political agenda onto this site. And then, slowly but surely, we are caught in a web of deference, negotiation, give-and-take, and piecemeal surrender. Pretty soon everybody is watching his Ps and Qs. Look at the result in Great Britain, where people are now scared witless to say ANYTHING that might get them in trouble with the traitor class that runs that unfortunate nation. I too might wish that Leo wouldn’t be so feisty and provocative at times. But with somebody like him on our side, we don’t have to worry about the creeping political correctness that has gradually swallowed up all other poetry sites like the gelatinous monster in the movie The Blob. Besides, let’s train ourselves to take some punches! Ms. Foreman, I have no real argument with you, other than in matters of degree and emphasis. I too would like to live in a society of old-world civility, with everyone seated around the table for an English high tea. No sarcasm there, Ms. Foreman — I really long for it. But the left won’t let that happen. And the left today is everywhere. They are even trying to infiltrate this tiny niche-market of formalist verse. I value politeness and courtesy as much as you do, Mr. Sale! Reply Amy Foreman July 27, 2018 That was said with both eloquence and civility, Mr. Salemi! 😉 I agree with you that we must be vigilant against the encroachment of the sort of political correctness that stifles Truth in the face of Islamofascism or left-wing ideology. Absolutely. I am not aware that such “slow-motion” p.c. has ever tried to “sneak across” the borders of the SCP, but it may have happened on posts I have not read. I also agree that lively discourse and criticism are key components of the SCP, ones that can help each of us to write better poetry. Even Leo’s consistent complaints about my verse as “thumping,” “tin-eared,” “amateurish doggerel” of the worst kind do not offend me, and, in fact, intrigue me. However, when I and others are specifically and personally attacked, we no longer have a poetry site talking about poetry. We have the reactionary equivalent of a left-wing university demonstration, complete with defamatory slurs and name-calling. It’s unacceptable. Poets on this site have been called “raisin-b*lled” “bull-sh*itters,” “heretics” steeped in the “primordial evil” of their own “sullied souls.” One poet’s livelihood was THREATENED! That is unacceptable. Dismissing behavior like this as “feisty and provocative” shows shortsightedness, a shortsightedness not unlike that of those supporters of the “religion of peace,” who refuse to be concerned when the “peaceful” mob shouts, “British soldiers, go to h*ll.” That’s my view on it, anyway. I hope I did not cross the bounds of civility in saying it! Blessings to you, Mr. Salemi, and to Mr. Sale and Mr. Yankevich as well. James Sale July 28, 2018 Thank you Joseph: that’s great and I am really pleased to hear what you say. Let’s have tea round the high table – with Amy too if she can be there! I am coming to New York next year, so maybe, who knows … it might happen. As for Political Correctness, of course, you are right. It is a disease which is killing my country; we are currently like Frodo on the edge of doom, swaying this way and that, with the ring – the EU – threatening to take us all down. It did my heart good to see Jean-Claude Junker sweating like a nervous hog before President Trump and reneging on the very EU ‘we don’t negotiate under duress’ commitment and Trump getting him to deal! If only our Prime Minister took a stand. Juncker, by the way, is famous for this great quote of infamy: “When it becomes serious, you have to lie”. And then they smugly virtue-signal to Trump. What hypocrisies – ah! Perhaps time for more of your great poetry satirising these creeps. Thanks again for replying. Amy Foreman July 28, 2018 This line explained it all perfectly, James: ” For we here – all of us, according to our degrees of power and ability – are working against the forces of post-modernism and free verse and determinism – and not against each other by needless abuse. ” Well put. 🙂 Reply Aedile Cwerbus July 28, 2018 Not only does Ms. Foreman’s poetry display remarkable qualities, for example, the remarkable tone of her lament, “‘Til We Forgot”; so too does her reasoned prose. The SCP is superior to other Internet sites, other literary reviews, and other poetic journals, because: 1. it allows for the free exchange of ideas about poetry, monitored, of course, by its editor Mr. Mantyk, who administers its comments under a very liberal banner of tolerance and compassion; 2. in addition to poetry and verse, it exhibits reviews, translations, and interviews; 3. its participants range from novice to mature, from new voices to ancient, and from various theoretical stands; 4. it publishes poets and poetry from around the World; 5. it carries the banner of classical poetry, even in its title; 6. its shows great variety in styles and forms, embracing riddles and anecdotes, accepting syllabic as well as metrical structures; 7. it utilizes the visual and the aural arts throughout; 8. its concerns range from aesthetics to politics, from cultural to ethical; 9. its topics include, among so many issues, human rights and deconstructing totalitarianisms; 10. and it is dynamic, occasionally printing work on news of note. As the great Latin literary critic Quintilian (c. 35 – c. 100) wrote “Laudem virtutis necessitati damus.” Reply Rufus Butthead July 28, 2018 Certainly Ms. Foreman’s poem ought to appear in the 2058 Norton Anthology of Modern Poetry, like most other great works of poetry. And yet it won’t: the world forgets us and moves on. Reply Paul Gray August 2, 2018 I don’t assume a watchmaker Nor hold big bangs as cause My course though bumpy is much straighter Each time I believe I pause To live in doubt and wonderment Especially for those who know Explaining faith is mere escape When they’ve no place else to go No devil whispers in my ear I think things good and bad And if it turns I disappear A few may well be sad “He loves us we are dear to him” They cried with upward glance Then the cows foot it came crashing down On the hopeful heap of ants. Reply David Paul Behrens August 7, 2018 Mr. Gray, this poem is very clever. I have often thought of atoms as being tiny solar systems, and our solar system as being an atom inside some being’s big toe. It is just a matter of time before he stubs his toe and we all perish. Reply Brandalynn Ann January 5, 2019 Perfect. Reply Brandalynn Ann January 5, 2019 That was supposed to look like, “Perfect!” 😉 Reply Leave a Reply Cancel ReplyYour email address will not be published.CommentName* Email* Website Notify me of follow-up comments by email. Notify me of new posts by email. This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.