Thursday, September 17, 2009 19 Comments

Young America

If America had died young,
Like Alexander! Granted, young
Alex, in drunken rage, ran
His cousin through with a spear.
But a good spear: stout and sharp,
Fresh from spearmaker's shop.
His eye was clear, his belly flat,
He ruled what he overran:
Men spoke Greek ten centuries
In the Hindu Kush. Dead
At twenty-seven of a fever -
Malady unknown to nations.
His will: to kratisto! Time
Herself obeyed; time brought
Her palm to young America.
Here was Alexander god
In life; permanent Alexander;
Marble in Maryland swamp.
To those who remember her!
They dodder in their homes,
They corrode in the mud. Tibet
Is better known. Our Alex,
Two hundred five and going
Quite strong, impounds
Throne under glacier of fat,
Yellow and bone-stiff.
His heart is a basketball,
Delicate as a sparrow, old
As a turtle, scarred as a whale.
His claret comes in carboys.
His smell is extraordinary.
The world fears him; his
Eunuchs deceive him; his
Wife screams at him. Him
Fools adore; cynics loathe;
Ordinary men assume.
The wise avert their eyes,
Consider his stout youth.


Blogger Mencius Moldbug said...

(All errors are intentional.)

September 17, 2009 at 1:43 AM  
Anonymous josh said...

That's doesn't make any sense.

September 17, 2009 at 4:49 AM  
Anonymous togo said...

An interesting review of Spengler's
last book, Hour of Decision:

September 17, 2009 at 5:27 AM  
Anonymous Leonard said...

1804? What's so important about 1804?

A quick look at the wiki shows a few significant events for the USG in 1804.

I am guessing that 1804 is meant to signify the death of Alex Hamilton in his duel. Thus, our Alex, the bloated and flaccid USG, was "born" with the death of a person -- i.e., this is a circumspect way of saying it is undead. And also of suggesting that it did have a decent run there, of the first 15 years, or the first 29+, depending on how you want to parse origins.

"Dead at 27 of democracy". Seems about right.

September 17, 2009 at 7:41 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Most of Moldy's recent poems have been of a high caliber, but this one, I think, is bad. The prosody is stiff, and the allegories do more to confuse than enlighten. Just my thoughts.


September 17, 2009 at 8:12 AM  
Anonymous Hessian said...

I hope this poem isn't based in any way upon facts, impressions, or ideas gleaned from that awful book on Hamilton by that awful amateurish historian and polemicist Thomas DiLorenzo.

September 17, 2009 at 8:17 AM  
Blogger xlbrl said...

Tocqueville would say 1801 marked the end of the founders era in government, and that what happened next was inevitable to men in a democracy and more suitable to them however unfortunate that was; that we hit the jackpot to have them for those twelve formative years.
That this lasted one hundred and forty years more or less is no small acheivment. Next.

September 17, 2009 at 8:59 AM  
Blogger Aaron Davies said...

As a proud Columbian, I have a duty: yay Hamilton, boo Aaron Burr! And down with Princeton!

September 17, 2009 at 9:25 AM  
Anonymous Fred S. said...

"Consider his stout youth"

Except that the intertwined sins of antinomianism and treason damned your state from the beginning. So, there isn't any glory whose fading you should bemoan. I thought that was, you know, sort of the whole neo-Jacobite thing...

In Moldbuggian parlance, epic poetry fail!

September 17, 2009 at 10:36 PM  
Anonymous Fred S. said...

But thanks for reminding me of the song:

"We live for just these twenty years/ Do we have to die for the fifty more?"

Now DAT's poetry!

September 17, 2009 at 10:49 PM  
Blogger G. M. Palmer said...

Fred S.

That's not poetry, it's song -- songs have melisma, poems don't.

Victor, this may be the tightest prosody of any Mencius poem yet -- moreover, the internal (sonic and visual) rhyme and alliteration is both impressive and purposeful.

This is the first MM poem in a while to actually sound good -- which means it's the most successful as a poem (and not a piece of information).

I'd prefer some sort of article before "Throne," but meh.


"Ordinary men assume." is the best line of poetry I've read in years.


September 18, 2009 at 4:20 AM  
Blogger G. M. Palmer said...

Does that line come from here?

September 18, 2009 at 4:21 AM  
Anonymous josh said...

I can't tell a prosidy from josidy, but I thought it sounded nice too. Read it aloud.

BTW, to what does MM's cryptic and logically impossible comment refer?

September 18, 2009 at 5:57 AM  
Anonymous tenkev said...

Maybe it refers to the fact that Alexander died at 32, not 27.

September 18, 2009 at 6:25 AM  
Anonymous Fred S. said...

G.M. Palmer,

"That's not poetry, it's song -- songs have melisma, poems don't."

Well, it's actually a transcription of song lyrics. It can be sung or recited in some other fashion.

"this may be the tightest prosody of any Mencius poem yet"

His is a parody of prosody.

September 18, 2009 at 12:57 PM  
Blogger G. M. Palmer said...


We'll have to agree for you to be wrong wrt song lyrics and their "transcription"

but what do you mean about MM's prosody being a parody?

September 18, 2009 at 1:54 PM  
Anonymous Edward Williams said...

All errors are intentional.

September 20, 2009 at 10:22 PM  
Anonymous Fred S. said...

"We'll have to agree for you to be wrong wrt song lyrics and their 'transcription'"

Huh? What wil we have to agree about for me to be wrong? If we agreed, wouldn't I be right, at least presuming you were?

Also, Webster's defines "transcribe",which you inscrutably put in inverse commas, as "to make a written copy of". Just, y'know, FYI.

"but what do you mean about MM's prosody being a parody?"

You hit me with "melisma" and I felt I had to come back wit something. In any case, I merely write; I leave the interpretation to others.

September 22, 2009 at 1:09 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

not related to the post, but very much related to your thesis:

September 30, 2009 at 11:27 PM  

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