Sunday, 22 April 2007

Word Nerd Fiiiiight!

Byron vs Southey
Oh Southey! Southey! cease thy varied song!
A bard may chant too often and too long:
As thou art strong in verse, in mercy, spare!
A fourth, alas! were more than we could bear.
But if, in spite of all the world can say,
Thou still wilt verseward plod thy weary way;
If still in Berkley ballads most uncivil,
Thou wilt devote old women to the devil,
The babe unborn thy dread intent may rue:
"God help thee," Southey, and thy readers too.

I like Byron. I picked up a abridged copy of selected poems earlier this afternoon, as something tangible for me to carry around and paw through while taking a coffee in this dreary ailing township where I live. This place makes Orange Massachusetts look like Rio. Anyway, I digress -- over my soggy bland tiramisu I stumbled across these lines, and it made me laugh and laugh and then reference Byron again to get more background information, then laugh and laugh and relate it stronger with current events.

History is just repeating;
Over and over and over and over - like a monkey with a miniature cymbal.

It was quoted of Southey by the literary critic (HAHAHA, wait let me rephrase that) strike, by another faintly embittered early 19th century writer, William Hazlitt, the following:
He wooed Liberty as a youthful lover, but it was perhaps more as a mistress than a bride; and he has since wedded with an elderly and not very reputable lady, called Legitimacy.

My casual research tells me Hazlitt was an pre-socialist before his time who never lost his revolutionary vigour and totally ripped a new one to Coleridge and Wordsworth and almost everyone else who got old, got famous, and got conservative. He hated conservatives; or at least, he hated the political U turn that people took. That's awesome, I can relate -- and oh snap he was sharp.

Just maybe not as sharp as Byron...

My point being as following: it is all terribly exciting in ones youth or later-life metamorphosis to attach themselves to a movement which is, for all extents and purposes, free: libertarianism from the establishment, shifting power through moving the people, grass roots and all that; stirring up the pot of social consensus. Only, if when the establishment begins to embrace you, and you start to, in Southey's case, sing the praises of Monarchy - or say, perhaps, in modern terms, oh, pimp the marketing tycoons - and you are left attempting to pass and enforce a code of moral judgement on your once fellow libertines for their written word... One will find that's what us youngsters call selling out.

But as we all know, friendsters: the internet is serious business.


fp said...

Sometimes you gotta confront the bastards where they live.

Sometimes if you do that they will beat the living crap out of you.

Ultimately it will be worth it.

fp said...

p.s. I love it that you relate this lit-crit stuff to real life.

J.Black said...

Oh Mr. Frank -- isn't everything lit-crit in the end?

Cleaning blood off of ones front doorstep is always terribly difficult. They might hurt you good, but any attempt to clean their property will stain the multitudinous seas incarnadine.

So worth it.