Frankly, There Are Many Ways To Spell Uggly

“the Baleks von Bilgen…new coat of arms—a giant crouching under a fir tree” —Heinrich Böll, “The Balek Scales”

by Esca Webuilder

In the dark ages, lived a tyrant. Gugyl was his name,
whose thoughts, though somewhat polished, were untrammeled and untame,
and sharpened by elite, progressive ideology;
he was a tyrant of exuberance and fantasy;
and, withal, of an irresistible controlling might,
that, at his will, he turned his fancies into righteous spite.
And he was given greatly to communing with himself,
and when he and himself agreed, the thing he thought was felt.
When every member of his court moved smoothly in its course,
his nature was genteel, genial and bland perforce;
but when there was a little hitch, his orbs got out of whack,
and he would crush down anyone who got out of his track.
Among the notions of this tyrant was his public space
in which he demonstrated justice, honesty and grace.
Here subjects were refined and cultivated in their minds
to give the people what they needed—justice lacking blinds.
He did not want to give the people opportunities
to argue their opinions or engage in mental sprees.
He wanted justice to be just according to his whim,
and he could banish anyone; it was all up to him.
If subjects virtue signaled, they were granted the reward
of staying in his presence, for he truly loved accord;
but when someone committed thoughtcrime, they were crucified;
in public notice, their thoughtcrime was neatly rectified.
This way his public space was thus allotted only to
his subjects who knew everything he ever said was true.
And this great scheme all came from his extraordinary brain,
this awesome tyrant who knew more than any John or Jane.
Who dared to question his ideal form of governance?
Each subject could do what he said. Each subject got his chance.
This was his way administering justice in the land,
for one and all in equity could follow his command.
The thinking part of the community could bring no charge
of prejudice against this plan, barbaric, florid, large;
for did not every citizen, accepted or accused,
choose to enjoy his justice or else justly be abused?



NOTE TO READERS: If you enjoyed this poem or other content, please consider making a donation to the Society of Classical Poets.

The Society of Classical Poets does not endorse any views expressed in individual poems or commentary.

CODEC Stories:

26 Responses

    • Cynthia Erlandson

      Thank you for doing this video, Evan. It is very well done.

      • Joe Tessitore

        I agree with Cynthia and recommend this video to one and all.

    • Joe Tessitore

      I also recommend “Snitch Culture”, an article that rather remarkably appeared in this Sunday’s “Style Section” of the New York Times.
      Children are once again informing on their parents – in this case to the FBI – and doing so proudly.
      Hitler Youth are back among us.

  1. Cynthia Erlandson

    Dale, I like this poem very much, and it made me smile. My favorite lines are: “And he was given greatly to communing with himself, / and when he and himself agreed, the thing he thought was felt.” (Even though it isn’t an exact rhyme, the humor makes up for that!) “Choose to enjoy his justice or else justly be abused” is also excellent!

    • Martin

      This is a fine poem about cancel culture, woke-ism, and censorship (the opposite of freedom of speech). (Of course, Google, since it is privately owned, is allowed to delete videos or people — cancel them — from their site, even though it has really become a public forum. It’s scary! Hopefully, things will change in that regard. People will eventually get fed up with such nonsense.) I especially like the last line of the poem. This is an excellent allegory about politics that have gotten out of hand. And also about being closed-minded and not wanting to hear the truth or see reality, but only advancing a certain ideology.

    • BDW

      as per Esca Webuilder:

      As I appreciate the observations of air, land, sun, and sea, the following phrases may seem strange indeed:

      Ms. Erlandson makes a comment that shows the common attitude and taste @ SCP for exact rhyme, when she states, in reference to the following couplet,

      “And he was given greatly to communing with himself;
      and when he and himself agreed, the thing he thought was felt.”

      “Even though it isn’t an exact rhyme, the humor makes up for that.”

      [Actually the humour is due more to the Frank of “Frankly” in the title, Frank Stockton.]

      If I grant her premise that self/felt is not an exact rhyme-pair, I am beset with the difficulty of her liking the line despite the rhyme. Should I use less rhyme? Are slant rhymes, like those of Dickinson, Owen, and Thomas, unacceptable @ SCP? And all those examples of slant rhyme in folk poetry as well as literary poetry, like those found, say, in Alexander Pope’s “Elegy to the Memory of an Unfortunate Lady”: gods/abodes, years/sepulchers, and good/blood.

      And then, what shall I do, if Mr. Didact insists that self/felt is not a rhyme pair? Shall I throw up my hands and yield to his greater intellect (head)?

      The last line, however, whatever excellence it may possess, is entirely due to myself’s felt cadence and balance.

      • Cynthia Erlandson

        I appreciate your comments, Bruce. I see I shouldn’t have used the phrase “exact rhyme”, since I appreciate (and often use) some types of partial rhyme. I have a definite personal preference for consonantal rhymes, rather than assonantal rhymes. The three examples you give above (gods/abodes; years/sepulchres; and good/blood are all consonantal, whereas “self/felt” is assonantal. There is a very interesting discussion of these types in Timothy Steele’s book “All the Fun’s in How You Say a Thing.” Here is his glossary definition of consonantal rhymes: “…a species of partial rhyme in which the final stressed syllables of lines correspond in their closing consonants but not in the vowels that precede them, as in moon/none, limb/comb, and nut/lute.” The definition the same book gives of assonantal rhyme is “…a form of rhyme that matches the vowels of the last metrically accented syllables of corresponding lines, but but that does not match the consonants that follow.”

      • BDW

        On Crhymes
        by Wic E, Ruse Blade
        for Cynthia Erlandson

        Although the synthesis of air, land, sun and sea appeals.
        I find I’m still in disagreement with the present spiel;
        for felt and self aren’t merely assonantal in my mind,
        but also, consonantally, rhyme perfectly I find.
        For me the order of the letters doesn’t matter much,
        which is why such a large percentage channel me a chump.
        Who cares? But even more than that, two lines don’t have to rhyme.
        In any order, it’s okay to slosh through mud and mire,
        especi’lly when one’s pulling out roots of euonymus.
        In this I find myself and me unanimous in sum.

  2. Daniel kemper

    The poem makes me writhe. Which is what it should do, addressing the subject matter that it does.

    • BDW

      as per Esca Webuilder:

      The poetry sustains, just as the topic makes me writhe.
      I, too, recoil, like Daniel Kemper, while tech tyrants thrive.

  3. Joe Tessitore

    Well-done, Mr. Wise.
    Excellent story-telling and right on the money, pun intended.

    • BDW

      I owe the story telling’s vigour to Frank Stockton’s tail.
      The tiger purrs behind the door; the lady takes an ale.

  4. Joseph S. Salemi

    It has been the goal of left-liberalism, ever since the 1960s, to make all public space a restricted, safe zone for progressive opinion and commentary, without the slightest answer, critique, or refutation.

    And they have now reached that goal, with the full approval of millions of stupid citizens.

    As for our vaunted ACLU — they’ve done a disappearing act. Civil liberties are now only for left-liberals.

    • BDW

      Mr. Salemi’s phrase “disappearing act” follows chronologically the following poem of a week ago (in this dodeca’s stomping iambic hexameters:

      A Disappearing Act
      by Li “Web Crease” Du
      “I’m about as popular as a dose of strychnine.”
      —from Alfred Hitchcock’s “The Lady Vanishes”

      Just as Wang Zang has learned to hang himself by slow degrees,
      because the CCP believes he threatens the Chinese,
      I’ve learned to censor my poetic creativity,
      because gatekeepers think I’m a threat to society.

      Just as Wang Zang continues to destroy his very self,
      because authorities don’t want to know what he has felt,
      I, too, am striving to expunge ideas I display,
      because authorities don’t want to know what I might say.

      Just as Wang Zang attempts to disappear his poetry,
      because that is the inclination of the CCP,
      I’m trying to eliminate words from my prose and verse,
      because that is the strong desire of the Universe.

      Li “Web Crease” Du is a poet of Chinese poetry. The poet Wang Zang remains in prison in China, as does his wife, in separate prisons. Their young children await their mommy and daddy.

      • Joseph S. Salemi

        Bruce, the phrase “disappearing act” is a well-worn and standard one in English, and might even be considered a cliche. Do you think that I stole it from you?

  5. Benjamen Grinberg

    Makes me wonder how it is that these platforms haven’t been designated as publishers and still enjoy protections of being so-called carriers.

    • BDW

      as per Esca Webuilder:

      Is it because the Swamp and the tech robber-baron tyrants find it most satisfying?

    • BDW

      Not at all, Joseph S. I thought it was an interesting coincidence–only this and nothing more.

  6. David Gosselin

    Dear Dale,

    I’m not big on political poems, or better said I think it’s hard to write a good political poem that doesn’t just read like some kind of partisan “us and them” argument, but the idea of an evil tyrant of censorship called “Gugyl” is quite fun. What about a short story that tells the tale of a censorship tyrant called Gugyl? The story could tell of a grumpy mechanic who proved all the philosophers and scientists wrong with his “truth machine”, or something like that.
    A story written in the style of a modern “The Emperor has no clothes” could also work quite nicely.

    Edgar Poe also did some good satire of Aristotle and Francis Bacon in his prose poem “Eureka.” Poe spoke of a one Turkish philosopher named “Aries Tottle” and “The Hog” (Francis Bacon):

    “Do you know that it is scarcely more than eight or nine hundred years ago since the metaphysicians first consented to relieve the people of the singular fancy that there exist but two practicable roads to Truth? Believe it if you can! It appears, however, that long, long ago, in the night of Time, there lived a Turkish philosopher called Aries and surnamed Tottle.” [Here, possibly, the letter-writer means Aristotle; the best names are wretchedly corrupted in two or three thousand years.] “The fame of this great man depended mainly upon his demonstration that sneezing is a natural provision, by means of which over-profound thinkers are enabled to expel superfluous ideas through the nose; but he obtained a scarcely less valuable celebrity as the founder, or at all events as the principal propagator, of what was termed the deductive or à priori philosophy. He started with what he maintained to be axioms, or self-evident truths: — and the now well understood fact that no truths are self-evident, really does not make in the slightest degree against his speculations: — it was sufficient for his purpose that the truths in question were evident at all. From axioms he proceeded, logically, to results. His most illustrious disciples were one Tuclid, a geometrician” [meaning Euclid] “and one Kant, a Dutchman, the originator of that species of Transcendentalism which, with the change merely of a C for a K, now bears his peculiar name.

    “Well, Aries Tottle flourished supreme, until the advent of one Hog, surnamed ‘the Ettrick shepherd,’ who preached an entirely different system, which he called the à posteriori or inductive. His plan referred altogether to sensation. He proceeded by observing, analyzing, and classifying facts — instantiæ Naturæ, as they were somewhat affectedly called — and arranging them into general laws.”



    • BDW

      First off, political poetry is generally anathema to literature; and as was pointed out to Mr. Salemi in a post to Mr. Flynn’s “refreshing”, since-removed “The SCP…” it was explained to Mr. Salemi that the “stomping iambic hexameters” form less than 5% of this writer’s total poetic output. But there are many possible approaches to poletics (political poetry, as per Beau Lecsi Werd), as Mr. Gosselin points out. From Aristophanes in his comedies through Roman poets in their comments to the consummate Italian poet Dante, poletics abounds. In English, Shakespeare, as usual in such arenas, reigns supreme; but in the “fun” category Swift in his brutal “Gulliver’s Travels” is breathtaking in his irony.

      Second, Mr. Gosselin brings up the letter of the 25th century in Poe’s remarkable “Eureka”. [I am reminded of Zamyatin’s :We”.] There are so many things one could say about that letter near the beginning of Poe’s lengthy prose-poem, a scattered few remarks will suffice. As to writing a prose story of the mechanic, I pass. Poe with his magnificent prose could have done better, and did. As to “Eureka” itself, though brilliant, it is too diffuse. Wasn’t it Poe who pointed out there was no such thing as a long poem? As to “The Emperor Has No Clothes”, that children’s classic has adorned poems used in reference to Xi Jinping, et. al.

      Finally, as to corruption of names, as the narrator of “Eureka” notes, Erisbawdle Cue fits right in that realm, especially when he notes that Peirce suggested a third road, abduction, and Erisbawdle Cue suggested a fourth, creduction, and a fifth, preduction. O, how many more roads are there to truth?

  7. Martin

    To add to my earlier comments, I like the use of the two rhetorical figures in the last line: polyptoton (“justice/justly”) and chiasmus in the internal rhyme (“choose … justice … justly … abused”). Quite inspired!

    • BDW

      as per Lew Icarus Bede,

      Ah, one may hear a swallow near here at the beginning of March—a purple Progne subis—musical in the predawn darkness and calling from a neighbourhood rooftop. His grace-notes chirp out two schemes, not affecting the intended sense, repetitive polyptoton and place-changing, chiasmus—Abba! How beautiful is your Creation.

  8. Jennifer

    Dear BDW,

    This poem really resonates with me and I was wondering if it is published wider? Would be great to get in contact with you.


  9. BDW

    I appreciate that one of last year’s poems “Frankly, There Are Many Ways to Spell Uggly” resonated with Ms. Goodrich. As to its being “published wider”, I cannot say; for I never know exactly what happens to individual poems once they hit the Internet. But what strikes me as unusual is that just this week Mr. Keating from DataBroker asked to use this very poem on his company’s website, and which I gladly okayed.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

Captcha loading...

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.