"Westerly View of the Colleges in Cambridge, New England" by Paul Revere‘Epigrams on the Decay within Academia’ and Other Poetry by C.B. Anderson The Society May 1, 2019 Culture, Humor, Poetry 21 Comments Epigrams on the Decay within Academia Liberal Artifice “Progressives,” through advanced miseducation, Have shaken our fair land to its foundation. Gustatory Chiasmus Good taste is timeless, sound, and with us always; Good times are tasteless down collegiate hallways. Lazy The profs who plant their feet on vinyl hassocks Are only fit for teaching ersatz classics. Golden What many teachers fail to recognize: Cold silence is preferred to outright lies. Superficial The overarching underlying purpose Of shallow thinkers is to scratch the surface. Prognosis Though cosmic looms of kismet or of karma Determine warp and weft of dread disease, On earth we face the specter of Big Pharma Where side-effects outnumber remedies. What recourse is at hand for those who slipped Into a coma sans a living will Or for the bedrid casualties now stripped Of dignity who’ve bit the bitter pill? The herbal and holistic cures no profit Provide for giant pharmaceutic firms, But jars arrayed from baseboard to the soffit On drugstore shelves exploit our fear of germs. We’re made to pay large sums for medicine That might not work as well as Providence, Which makes our growing urge to jettison Prescriptions seem like simple common sense. Accolades Sing a song for all the mothers Raising children sans a helpmate. Strum a tune for loyal brothers Grilling burgers on a tailgate. Light a candle for the sailors Drowned in Neptune’s briny ocean; Likewise trim a wick for whalers Lighting lamps through their devotion To the vagaries of commerce. So it goes, as we spend fortunes Buying in on Satan’s proffers, Counting on unequal portions Always slanted in our favor. Legacies have hit rock-bottom, Nevermore a bite to savor, Now the very dregs of Sodom. Let us bind ourselves to causes Reckoned proper by our sisters, Clapping with infrequent pauses, Never minding painful blisters. Further, let us do our tithing In accordance with our nature, Not with laws from serpents writhing In Pelosi’s legislature. C.B. Anderson was the longtime gardener for the PBS television series, The Victory Garden. Hundreds of his poems have appeared in scores of print and electronic journals out of North America, Great Britain, Ireland, Austria, Australia and India. His collection, Mortal Soup and the Blue Yonder was published in 2013 by White Violet Press. Views expressed by individual poets and writers on this website and by commenters do not represent the views of the entire Society. The comments section on regular posts is meant to be a place for civil and fruitful discussion. Pseudonyms are discouraged. The individual poet or writer featured in a post has the ability to remove any or all comments by emailing submissions@ classicalpoets.org with the details and under the subject title “Remove Comment.” Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window) 21 Responses Joseph S. Salemi May 1, 2019 Kip, these are great. The “Epigrams” are perfect encapsulations of the degradation and incompetence that now dominate in our universities, particularly in literature and humanities departments. The trochaics of “Accolades” are delightful. If only more formalist poets knew how do something other than iambic pentameter. And your feminine rhyme endings throughout are “spot on,” as the Brits say. Reply C.B. Anderson May 1, 2019 Thanks, Joe. In a way, I was thinking of you when I wrote these couplets, because you represent the VERY OPPOSITE of the ethopathic characteristics depicted here. As for trochaic meter, there is a reason why I (and others) don’t employ it very often: it is harder to manage than iambic meter; our hearts naturally beat with a thub-DUP. I feel that trochaic poems SHOULD have feminine rhyme endings, unless they are meant to be deliberately catalectic. Reply Peter Hartley May 1, 2019 …And worthy of Martial. I remember being amazed to discover that my thirty-odd-year-old university-educated niece has never heard of a mausoleum and doesn’t know what a buzzard is. Reply Joseph S. Salemi May 1, 2019 At my university, I once listened to some younger members of the English faculty in the elevator. They were discussing the verb “to harrow.” Not one of them knew what it meant, and more ominously, none of them had the slightest interest in looking it up. They just laughed it off as “some obsolete word.” These are the jackasses teaching literature to your kids. Reply C.B. Anderson May 1, 2019 It must have been a harrowing experience for you — and a mule-powered harrow, to boot. C.B. Anderson May 1, 2019 I would say, Peter, that buzzards obviate, to some extent at least, the need for mausoleums. But we’ll still need ossuaries. Know the names of things; I doubt it’s possible to know too many words. Reply Peter Hartley May 6, 2019 CB – We DO have badgers in the UK. And they have a bad reputation as carriers of bovine tuberculosis but are a protected species, so farmers who kill them sometimes leave their bodies at the side of the road to look like road-kill or “morkin”, not “merkin” which is something very different. Those lazy prof wazzocks should be sticking their knees on their hassocks and keeping their butts in their cassocks, and leaving the dirty soles of their shoes out of it. There is nothing that looks worse than a besmirched hassock, and the fact that they don’t even genuflect shows just how bone idle and disrespectful they really are. Very fine little epigrams. Reply Peter Hartley May 1, 2019 Although there are some words in this rich language of ours that we so seldom have the opportunity to put to good use that they could almost be regarded as superfluous. I’m thinking, of course, among others, of the words UCALEGON, a neighbour whose house is on fire; WERDEROBE, the faeces of a badger; and SOOTERKIN, the offspring of a Dutch woman and a hot stove. Reply C.B. Anderson May 1, 2019 Jesus, Peter! You’ve raised issues I’ve never dared to contemplate. I didn’t know that there were badgers in Britain; I thought that such creatures only existed in the North American Midwest. But what do I know? I’ll spare you the zoological nomenclature for now, a courtesy extended from one ape to another. Reply Monty May 2, 2019 Of the three words you offered above: not only could they “almost be regarded as superfluous” . . they ARE superfluous to our language; and I trust that we’ll never again encounter them. Reply Peter Hartley May 6, 2019 Yes I was fully aware that all three words are superfluous. I was merely using a rhetorical device that has three different words to describe it. The simplest of these three words is “understatement”. The other two words are superfluous. Monty May 2, 2019 Of course you’re not obliged to answer, CB (as is an authors right): but I wonder if you could guide me through the following words in order for me to fully absorb your rousing piece ‘Accolades’ . . . “trim a wick for whalers lighting lamps through their devotion to the vagaries of commerce”. Reply C.B. Anderson May 4, 2019 Monty, “trim a wick” is just an expression, similar to “light a candle.” Both are accolades to persons who have gone beyond our ordinary expectations. Recall the days of Moby Dick, when whalers sailed for years in search of sperm whales to collect and render the oil that lit many a New England lamp. Nowadays, killing whales for any reason is frowned upon. Back then, it was just business. If my reply has left you, in any way, unsatisfied, then please post another query. Reply Monty May 4, 2019 Yeah, I realised from the start that ‘trim a wick’ was an alternative way of saying ‘light a candle’ (the sentence started with “light a candle”.. then, “LIKEWISE trim a wick” . . so I sussed it on the spot) . . but I’d never heard it before; and I fell immediately in love with it. I also knew instantly, CB, that whenever I have occasion in the future to physically commit that act in company . . I shall never again simply say “let’s light a candle”. Not now I know of such a quality alternative with which to share with chums. Regarding the semi-sentence (from the semi-colon onwards) on which I was jammed: I should start by telling you that I’m not a very good thinker. Generally, if something doesn’t come to me fairly quickly: it’ll never come (it’s often the case that the more I try to work it out, the further away from me it gets; then I’m hopeless). Although I was in a similar state of hopelessness with the aforementioned sentence, I could somehow sense that it had a real meaning to it, which frustrated me; that’s why I was initially pestering you and Mr Stone for some aid. You now ask if the explanation you’ve since given has satisfied me . . well, it’s done more than that, CB: it’s left me rapturous at the (now evident) sheer cleverness of the sentence. I can see now that I never stood a chance of grasping it unaided; ‘cos I simply never knew that lamps were once lit with whale’s oil. Now I know that fact, the very three words which were confusing me – “whalers lighting lamps” – now not only make total sense; but they’re integral to what’s transpired (for me) to be a very vivid and far-reaching sentence: especially your contextual use of the word “devotion”. As mentioned, I suspected from the outset that it was a meaningful sentence; and so it transpired . . . merci pour votre aide. Mark Stone May 2, 2019 C.B., Hello. Here are four thoughts. 1. I wonder if it is really the “purpose” of shallow thinkers to merely scratch the surface. My guess is that everyone would like to be able to be a deep thinker. It’s just that shallow thinkers are not able to do that. 2. Although I very much like the profit/soffit end rhyme, the inversion of “no profit” and “provide” stands out. Here is an option: The herbal and holistic cures provide No profit for the pharmaceutic firms, But jars stacked to the soffits, side by side, On drugstore shelves exploit our fear of germs. 3. Love the trochaic meter in the last poem. My favorite line, because of its abundant assonance and consonance, is: “Likewise trim a wick for whalers” Also, the words at the end of lines 1, 3, 5 & 7 resonate nicely together. 4. “Grilling burgers on a tailgate” makes sense if the grill is resting on the tailgate of the truck. However, to me, it seems more natural to say “grilling burgers at a tailgate,” in the sense of “at a tailgate party.” I think a lot of people bring a grill and set it up next to their truck. Reply Monty May 3, 2019 Given that you’ve expressed a liking for the line which includes the word ‘whalers’: I wonder if you (or anyone, for that matter) could assist my absorption of the piece by telling me how you interpret that whole sentence (from ‘likewise’ to ‘commerce’). Does the word ‘whalers’ have another meaning over there (other than ‘those who go whaling’)? It sounds like a really meaningful sentence to me (especially the brilliant ‘trim a wick’, which I’d never before heard) . . but I just don’t know how to read it. Regarding your ‘tailgate’ query: I feel that you’ve answered your own question, Mark. You say that grilling burgers on a tailgate makes sense “if the grill is resting on the tailgate” . . so, take it as it reads: the grill is resting on the tailgate. As you rightly say, a LOT of people at such a party will set up the grill next to their truck: a LOT of people.. but not ALL people. It’s not unreasonable to assume that at any such party, there will be the odd few who’s grills don’t possess legs; so what do they do? They rest it on the tailgate (that being a favourable height from which to cook). Reply C.B. Anderson May 4, 2019 Bingo! C.B. Anderson May 4, 2019 Mark, in order, then, I would like to address your thoughts : 1. Sometimes purpose is a matter of individual predilection, but at other times it is a matter of more cosmic preordained order. Shallow thinkers have no special privilege. 2. I think your quatrain is fairly brilliant, but it just happens that it’s not the one I came up with. 3. Sound is always important, but I never expect a reader to respond so strongly to the sonic reverberations deliberately put in place. 4. A tailgate party begins on a tailgate. There’s nothing more to be said here. 4 Reply Sally Cook May 3, 2019 Dear C.B. – “..The overarching, underlying purpose Of shallow thinkers is to scratch the surface.” Oh yes, the surface, now venerated in all truly polite and sophisticated circles.. Pity anyone who digs under it! C.B., you nailed it. Good work! There is an unholy mix of orwellian analysis and self-directed sentiment abroad in the land. The arts have been almost totally taken over by surface-skimmers, who now know that image is all, yet have none.. Please keep on posting these very trenchant observations.. Reply Joseph S. Salemi May 3, 2019 What C.B. Anderson is suggesting, I believe, is that we are flooded with shallow thinkers precisely because almost all of our educational institutions have been infiltrated and captured by left-liberal teachers who have as their basic agenda the prevention of any really deep thought or insights, especially if they go against the grain of politically correct orthodoxy. As an artist of long standing, you of course have seen that something similar has taken place in the world of painting. Reply C.B. Anderson May 4, 2019 Monty, “trim a wick” is just an expression, similar to “light a candle.” Both are accolades to persons who have gone beyond our ordinary expectations. Recall the days of Moby Dick, when whalers sailed for years in search of sperm whales to collect and render the oil that lit many a New England lamp. Nowadays, killing whales for any reason is frowned upon. Back then, it was just business. If my reply has left you, in any way, unsatisfied, then please post another query. Reply Leave a Reply to C.B. Anderson 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.