Thursday, September 28, 2006

The Psalms, Blood and Violence

But aren't the monotheisms the bearers of a structural violence because they gave birth to an idea of unique Truth, excluding any competing expression?

One can always interpret the monotheisms as sacrificial archaisms, but the texts don't prove that they are such. It's said that the Psalms of the Bible are violent, but who speak up in the psalms if not the victims of the violence of the myths: "The bulls of Balaam encircle me and are about to lynch me"? The Psalms are like a magnificent lining on the outside, but when turned inside out they show a bloody skin. They are typical of the violence that weighs on humans and on the refuge that they find in their God.Our intellectual fashions don't want to see anything but violence in these texts, but where does the danger really come from? Today, we live in a dangerous world where all the mob movements are violent. This crowd or mob was already violent in the Psalms. Likewise in the story of Job. It – the "friends" – demanded of Job to acknowledge his guilt; they put him through a real Moscow trial. His is a prophetic trial. Is it not that of Christ, adulated by the crowds, then rejected at the moment of his Passion? These narratives announce the cross, the death of the innocent victim, the victory over all the sacrificial myths of antiquity.Is it so different in Islam? Islam has also formidable prophetic insights about the relation between the crowd, the myths, victims, and sacrifice. In the Muslim tradition, the ram Abel sacrificed is the same as the one God sent to Abraham so that he could spare his son. Because Abel sacrificed rams, he did not kill his brother. Because Cain did not sacrifice animals, he killed his brother. In other words, the sacrificial animal avoids the murder of the brother and the son. That is, it furnishes an outlet for violence. Thus Mohammed had insights which are on the plane of certain great Jewish prophets, but at the same time we find a concern for antagonism and separation from Judaism and Christianity that may negate our interpretation.

-"What Is Occurring Today Is a Mimetic Rivalry on a Planetary Scale."

Sunday, September 24, 2006

On the Verge of Coersion: Intolerance for "Freaks" in Our Narcissistic Culture

"Please say it three times after me: preimplanatation genetic haplotyping. It is a technique for screening embryos for six thousand inherited diseases. Elizabeth R. Schiltz, a law professor, writes in Business Week : "From time to time, we are all confronted with the disconnect between how we see ourselves and how others see us. I've always seen myself as a responsible, law-abiding citizen. I recycle, I vote, I don't drive a Hummer. But I've come to realize that many in the scientific community view me as grossly irresponsible. Indeed, in the words of Bob Edwards, the scientist who facilitated the birth of England's first test-tube baby, I am a 'sinner.' A recent book even branded me a 'genetic outlaw.' My transgression? I am one of the dwindling number of women who recieve a prenatal diagnosis of Down syndrome and choose not to terminate our pregnancies. So when I hear about medical breakthroughs like preimplantation genetic haplotyping (PGH)- a new technique to screen embryos in the in vitro fertilization process for 6.000 inherited diseases- I can't help but see 6,000 new reasons that parents will be branded as sinners or made to feel socially irresponsible for bringing their children into this world." Prof. Schiltz is author of Defiant Birth: Women Who Resis Medical Eugenics. For many people, aborting a potentially "defective" child is a no-brainer. Such a child would be an intolerable burden upon the parents, upon the family, and upon society. Many others simply refuse prenatal screening altogether, or only for the purpose of discovering a problem that might be remedied in the womb. Their commitment is to accepting and loving the life entrusted to them. But Professor Schiltz is right: With the return of eugenics, such people are increasingly viewed as antisocial, if not "outlaws." The late Christopher Lasch wrote that we congratulate ourselves on our moral progress because we no longer tolerate "freak shows" at the county fair. The real reason, he said, is that we are fast becoming a society that has no tolerance of, no place for, freaks... "(See FIRST THINGS October 2006 issue in the "While We're At It" section for remainder.)My commentary:Terms like "genetic outlaw" suggest that the "legitimate violence" of law-enforcement be brought to bear against those who reject the genetic eugenics point of view. The use of the term "sinner" may suggest the social stigmatizing and branding with a Scarlet Letter those that find abhorrent the "not worth living" stamp eagerly applied to the mystery of nascent life at the first hint of extra inconvenience by a narcissitic, narrow and precarious communion of thieves.

"Depravity According to Nature": Herman Melville and the Anthropology of Naturalistic Determinism in Billy Budd

"For what can more partake of the mysterious than an antipathy spontaneous and profound, such as is evoked in certain exceptional mortals by the mere aspect of some other mortal, however harmless he may be, if not called forth by this very harmlessness itself? ...In a list of definitions included in the authentic translation of Plato, a list attributed to him, occurs this: "Natural Depravity: a depravity according to nature." A definition which tho' savoring of Calvinism, by no means involves Calvin's dogmas as to total mankind. Evidently its intent makes it applicable but to individuals. Not many are the examples of this depravity which the gallows and jail supply. At any rate for notable instances, since these have no vulgar alloy of the brute in them, but invariably are dominated by intellectuality, one must go elsewhere. Civilization, especially if of the austerer sort, is auspicious to it. It folds itself in the mantle of respectability. It has its certain negative virtues serving as silent auxiliaries. It never allows wine to get within its guard. It is not going too far to say that it is without vices or small sins. There is a phenomenal pride in it that excludes them from anything mercenary or avaricious. In short the depravity here meant partakes nothing of the sordid or sensual. It is serious, but free from acerbity. Though no flatterer of mankind it never speaks ill of it. " -Billy Budd , in Chp 11 and 12 (by some divisions) by Herman Melville

Here Melville, if my interpretation is correct, enters on an interesting tangential discussion of a naturalistic anthropology which appears to have its counterpart in current beliefs in genetic determinism. Melville makes the obvious parallel between Calvinistic and naturalistic moral determinism but departs from them by suggesting that it is the case only with certain individuals, specifically in reference to a right understanding of their particular depraved or wicked behavior. He suggests that some people's actions can be understood to have the veneer of rationality while finding their true sources in irrational and natural springs of action. I think he is correct to bring to bear critical light on those who would too easily dismiss naturalistic causes of behavior. Many who favor naturalistic determinism quickly and correctly point out pertinent cases where genetic or physical disturbances in the body clearly exert a compelling force on an individual's behavior, which qualify our attribution of evil to the behavior where elsewhere it would be considered evil without qualification. Melville points out, in the text quoted below, that the out of hand dismissal of "natural depravity" by some is not in harmony with the Biblical understanding of the evil in its references to the mysteries of evil. The Biblical account of human nature here seems most clearly to be the most realistic. There is still the moral tone in the reference to evil but there is also the sophisticated recognition of mystery. As far as Melville remains in speculation and does not assert with certainty the naturalistically determined "evil" he is correct but he errs as far as he may assert the certain knowledge of the wellspring of the human behavior as being naturalistically determined. Certainly in specific cases we can see that a person has been compelled perhaps by brain damage so that his violence has an an apparent mitigating factor. But are we free in all honesty to think of such persons as incapable of moral decision-making at some level perhaps remote from our perception? Neither freewill or nature are adequate in themselves to explain the mystery of lawlessness.

"But the thing which in eminent instances signalizes so exceptional a nature is this: though the man's even temper and discreet bearing would seem to intimate a mind peculiarly subject to the law of reason, not the less in his heart he would seem to riot in complete exemption from that law, having apparently little to do with reason further than to employ it as an ambidexter implement for effecting the irrational. That is to say: Toward the accomplishment of an aim which in wantonness of malignity would seem to partake of the insane, he will direct a cool judgement sagacious and sound. These men are true madmen, and of the most dangerous sort, for their lunacy is not continuous but occasional, evoked by some special object; it is probably secretive, which is as much to say it is self-contained, so that when moreover, most active, it is to the average mind not distinguishable from sanity, and for the reason above suggested that whatever its aims may be -- and the aim is never declared -- the method and the outward proceeding are always perfectly rational. Now something such an one was Claggart, in whom was the mania of an evil nature, not engendered by vicious training or corrupting books or licentious living, but born with him and innate, in short "a depravity according to nature." By the way, can it be the phenomenon, disowned or at least concealed, that in some criminal cases puzzles the courts? For this cause have our juries at times not only to endure the prolonged contentions of lawyers with their fees, but also the yet more perplexing strife of the medical experts with theirs? -- But why leave it to them? Why not subpoena as well the clerical proficients? Their vocation bringing them into peculiar contact with so many human beings, and sometimes in their least guarded hour, in interviews very much more confidential than those of physician and patient; this would seem to qualify them to know something about those intricacies involved in the question of moral responsibility; whether in a given case, say, the crime proceeded from mania in the brain or rabies of the heart. As to any differences among themselves these clerical proficients might develop on the stand, these could hardly be greater than the direct contradictions exchanged between the remunerated medical experts." -Billy Budd , in Chp 11 and 12

Richard Dawkins and Daniel Dennett suggest that all rational behavior is a mask for subrational behavior, that we are merely colonized by memes in service to genes, mere vehicles for naturalistically determined behavior. Melville describes the naturalistic determinism as rare and applying only to individuals but they take it to apply to all human beings. They appear to be less astute observers of mankind than Melville, applying the doctrines of their worldview systematically and dogmatically to corral the empirical, rather than deriving them from a keen and practical apprehension of human behavior which seems to have been a marked trait of Melville's genius. But Melville seems to be playing with the naturalistic notion speculatively close to the time of the inception of Darwinian theory. Dawkins and Dennett and Wilson and other moderns however are not marked by the speculative tone in their naturalistic anthropologies, a speculative tone that still permeated Darwin's Origin of Species to some extent. Rather, theirs is a priestly dogmatism that broaches no primal assessment of human nature but rather assimilates everything to the narrative without questioning the foundations.

Monday, September 18, 2006

Rene Girard on the Goal of Literary Criticism and Its Relation to the Logos

Rene Girard, a tremendous and eclectic intellect, was not a Christian when working on his first book as a lecturer at John Hopkins, but it was through his literary studies that he came to a faith in Christ. The following is an excerpt from this first book, Deceit, Desire and the Novel, with a few of my comments interspersed.

"All types of structural thinking assume that human reality is intelligeible; it is a logos and, as such, it is an incipient logic, or it degrades itself into a logic."

[Girard is saying this in the context of a discussion of triangular desire, which is basically envy. It is different than the less complex desire between an subject and object. The envier surrenders the individual's "fundamental prerogative", the choice of the object of his own desire. Instead the desire for an object is mediated by another who's desire for the object they imitate. Thus the desire has become triangular and "structural."]

"It can thus be systematized, at least up to a point, however unsystematic, irrational, and chaotic it may aoppear even to those who operate the system. A basic contention of this essay is that the great writers apprehend intuitively and concretely, through the medium of their art, if not formally, the system in which they were first imprisoned together with their contemporaries."

[This reminds me of Plato's account of Socrates testing the wisdom of the poets and finding that they apprehended intuitively things that they were not able to explain but only represent in their verse, but they thought they knew more than they did about the things they intuitively felt through their verse. Socrates came to the conclusion that he would rather be ignorant of what they knew and know that he didn't know than to know what they knew and think that he knew more than that when he did not.
But also Girard's point about the artists' imprisonment with contemporaries and an implied degree of transcendance from this imprisonment by the artists in their intuitive correspondence and apprehension of logos, the feeding on logos, the Lord's supper of knowledge, is more of a positive affirmation than Socrates seems to give].

Now here it is, Girard's bold statement of the goal of literary criticism, having laid some preliminary explanation:

"Literary interpretation must be systematic because it is the continuation of literature. It should formalize implicit or already half-explicit systems. To maintain that criticism will never be systematic is to maintain that it will never be real knowledge. The value of critical thought depends not on how cleverly it manages to diguise its own systematic nature or on how much fundamental issues it manages to shirk or to dissolve but on how much literary substance it really embraces, comprehends, and makes articulate. The goal may be too ambitious but it is not outside the scope of literary cristicism. It is the very essence of literary criticism. Failure to reach it should be condemned, but not the attempt. Everything else has already been done."

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Solidarity with Africa

I watched Hotel Rwanda again today and thought about the repeated times that I have heard people express the sentiment that really there is nothing we can do for Africa, that they are animals, and that it is evolution and nature red in tooth and claw. This is very different than calling the behavior sinful that for instance was witnessed in the Rwandan massacres. Such expressions are in effect expressions of exasperation and rationalization for disenfranchisement of Africa and they conflate the problem by obscuring human decision making. Such a view ignores both the West’s culpability in Rwanda and the fundamental human nature we both share.

First the West’s culpability is ably indicated in the following account from Human Rights Watch's Leave None to Tell the Story: Genocide in Rwanda:

The Transformation of “Hutu” and “Tutsi”
By assuring a Tutsi monopoly of power, the Belgians set the stage for future conflict in Rwanda. Such was not their intent. They were not implementing a“divide and rule” strategy so much as they were just putting into effect the racist convictions common to most early twentieth century Europeans. They believed Tutsi, Hutu, and Twa were three distinct, long-existent and internally coherent blocks of people, the local representatives of three major population groups, the Ethiopid, Bantu and Pygmoid. Unclear whether these were races, tribes, or language groups, the Europeans were nonetheless certain that the Tutsi were superior to the Hutu and the Hutu superior to the Twa—just as they knew themselves to be superior to all three. Because Europeans thought that the Tutsi looked more like themselves than did other Rwandans, they found it reasonable to suppose them closer to Europeans in the evolutionary hierarchy and hence closer to them in ability…. This mythical history drew on and made concrete the “Hamitic hypothesis,” the then-fashionable theory that a superior, “Caucasoid” race from northeastern Africa was responsible for all signs of true civilization in “Black” Africa. This distorted version of the past told more about the intellectual atmosphere of Europe in the 1920s than about the early history of Rwanda. Packaged in Europe, it was returned to Rwanda where it was disseminated through the schools and seminaries…. Even in the 1990s, many Rwandans and foreigners continued to accept the erroneous history formulated in the 1920s and 1930s… The very recording of the ethnic groups in written form enhanced their importance and changed their character. No longer flexible and amorphous, the categories became so rigid and permanent that some contemporary Europeans began referring to them as “castes.” The ruling elite, most influenced by European ideas and the immediate beneficiaries of sharper demarcation from other Rwandans, increasingly stressed their separateness and their presumed superiority. Meanwhile Hutu, officially excluded from power, began to experience the solidarity of the oppressed.”

Secondly, our supposition of our own moral superiority is undermined when we consider the following points made by Elizabeth Powers on the First Things blog, September 14, 2006:
“For her ( Heather Mac Donald) it is the achievement of the secular Enlightenment that we are “more compassionate, humane, and respectful of human rights.” Just compare, she writes, the fourteenth century’s treatment of prisoners to today’s, “an advance due to Enlightenment reformers.”
As a scholar of the eighteenth century, I am familiar with this attribution of our supposed moral advance to the sages of the Enlightenment. The philosophes, however, independent scholars of their day, were simply capitalizing on the changed material environment in which they lived. Beginning in the early modern period, in the late fifteenth century, with European exploration of the globe and the opening of vast international trade, men (and mostly they were men) began to have economic opportunities beyond those dictated by tradition. The history of the West since then has been one of continuous improvement in the material life of more and more people, not simply the traditionally rich and privileged. With this democratization of wealth, ordinary men began to chafe at the traditional political and civic arrangements that kept them from wearing the clothes they liked, marrying the person of their choice, or choosing their own profession. The market began to offer “choice” not only in lifestyle but also in products. In response to this more liberal economic environment, philosophers began to enunciate ideas concerning liberty and individual freedom. But where would they have come up with the idea that each of us has a right to determine our destiny, if not for the moral legacy of Christianity, namely, the uniqueness of every person before God and the duty of that person to work out his individual salvation? All of liberalism’s important achievements—free political institutions, religious practice, intellectual and artistic expression—grew, in tandem with the wealth of the West, from that simple idea.
Don’t imagine that because criminals now have clean cells, even telephone privileges and access to law libraries, that we are more enlightened than our fourteenth-century predecessors. With our current material resources—a huge establishment of lawyers (many of them women), college degrees in prison management, cheap electricity, food providers, and so on—it would be irrational to keep criminals chained to walls in unheated cells for years, dependent for food on meals brought by their next of kin, and all the other horrors of incarceration brought to us by Alexandre Dumas. Liberals, and Heather Mac Donald, think that such “progress” is self-evident, as if ethics were something that accumulated in our arteries like cholesterol. But make no mistake: If we returned to the material conditions of the fourteenth century, prisoners would have their law books taken away.
While it is self-evident to Heather Mac Donald that “the rule of law” is transparent to “all rational minds,” try that idea on the Chinese, who are certainly rational (and infinitely skeptical, it would seem). One of the reasons that the concept of human rights has so much difficulty inserting itself in China is because of the absence of a Christian legacy. The Chinese are becoming more prosperous, but they have only the vaguest sense of what is second nature to us in the West—namely, the sacredness of the human person. The greatest reform movement in the world, the abolition of slavery, was led by Christians, not the philosophes. So, yes, Miss Mac Donald, we do live parasitically off the moral legacy of Christianity.”

I take it therefore as a sign of a failure of conscience when we failed to stand in solidarity and brotherhood with Rwanda. We do not have the evidence that we are better. Has not our wealth as a society as a whole come to us from forefathers who set up unjust systems based on stupid, wicked and inhuman pseudoscientific notions of racial superiority, and profited off it? In truth those who soothe themselves with the idea that we are more evolved or advanced than the African peoples are checking out of Hotel Rwanda and checking back into Hotel California.

Little girl: “Please don’t let them kill me. I promise not to be Tutsi anymore.”

Proverbs: “Those who close their ears to the cry of the poor will themselves cry out and not be answered.”

John Donne: Violence and Sexual Deviancy Converted Into the Chaste Holy Fires of the Delivered

Thomas Carew, in his brilliant elegy for the great British metaphysical Christian poet John Donne, writes:

"...But the flame

Of thy brave Soule, that shot such heat and light,
As burnt our earth, and made our darknesse bright,

Committed holy Rapes upon our Will,

Did through the eye the melting heart distill;

And the deepe knowledge of darke truths so teach,

As sense might judge, what phansie could not reach;
Must be desir'd for ever... "

"Committed holy Rapes upon our Will"?! Carew seems here to make an indirect allusion to Donne's unexpected analogies with violence and sexual deviancy in his poetry (for instance when he says that he will never be chaste unless God ravishes him, or when he says that God is most pleased with the church when she is opened to most men), baffling and counterintuitive in their transformation of a dirty subject and, for the sinner like me, heart constricting for their conversion of the impure into a holy lesson. Like the parable of Jesus of the shrewd and corrupt servant left in charge of his masters finances who uses them to gain friends when he realizes that he will soon be cut loose, Donne's poetry is more earthen and real than otherworldly pieties are likely to permit or approve. This comes from Donne's life reflected in his poetry as he converts overtime from erotic excesses and profligacy (he wrote bawdy love poetry and caused scandal by eloping with a fifteen year old) into a saintly provisioner of true food (he was faithful and devoted to her the remainder of his life) in the black plague years in England as the Dean of St Paul's Church, writing some of the greatest Christian sermons and poems of all time. Here is one of Donne's great poems, a prayer that many like me who have fallen to the wiles of Ashteroth and the pleasure goddesses of this age may hope to say in our soul in full freedom and earnestness, that the sexually broken may be brought to chastity as Donne was:

"Batter My Heart"
by John Donne

Batter my heart, three person’d God, for, you
As yet but knock, breathe, shine, and seek to mend;
That I may rise, and stand, o’erthrow me, and bend
Your force, to break, blow, burn and make me new.
I, like an usurpt town, to’another due,
Labour to admit you, but Oh, to no end.
Reason your viceroy in me, me should defend,
But is captiv’d, and proves weak or untrue,
Yet dearly I love you, and would be loved faine,
But am betroth’d unto your enemy,
Divorce me untie, or break that knot again,
Take me to you, imprison me, for I
Except you enthrall me, never shall be free,
Nor ever chaste, except you ravish me.

The Homeless in DC

A group from the church plant I am attending makes bag lunches Saturdays and goes down to Union Station in DC and hands them out to the homeless and talks with them.

One of the girls that leads the effort once advocated for some homeless people who were not being allowed on the Subway, saying that if anyone especially needs access to the subway it would be them. This, it seems to me, conforms to the sober assessment of others in light of the gospel that it is incumbent upon Christians to adopt, an assessment which throws out the favoritism and caste like blind excesses and bogotry and over attentiveness to one's own comfort in favor of respect for human beings. My mind had recourse to this story again and again when I was reading James chapter 2 from the Bible this morning.

One homeless man from Virginia told of his love for mountain climbing and climbing of all sorts when he was younger. He was now an old man. He said that he used to drink every weekend and when he retired he didn't know what to do with himself so he said, "Oh well, I'll have a drink" and things got out of hand.

Lydia and a homeless man who's name I forgot recounted a story about a homeless person they knew who was beaten up so that his face was bloodied and robbed. When the police were called, they did a background check on the man who had been robbed and discovered that he had a warrant out on him, so he had to go to jail too.

The starlings and sparrows hopped around beside the seated homeless. On a simple fundamental level God is always giving us these living object lessons in how He provides for us, whether homeless or wealthy, our daily bread. God is not far from the homeless.

One homeless man was dressed up stylishly and carried a GQ magazine with him.

One showed us her art which was pretty good, unique color drawings mainly of flowers. She talked about politics and anticipated a fatal day of judgement for Bush.

One homeless man, Reggie, had been a Marine and had gone on two and a half tours. He seemed quietly pleased with the fundamental level of human communion like nutrient that was mutually felt.

Friday, September 15, 2006

Life's Course of Study is to Sound Sin and Love

Throughout yesterday, and this morning, my mind adverts back to a poem by the great metaphysical poet Goerge Herbert, one of the greatest Christian poets of all time, and in particular to these lines (which are best taken in their context):

But there are two vast, spacious things,
The which to measure it doth more behove:
Yet few there are that sound them; Sinne and Love

This is true study. To apply myself to this, all my hour and day, growing wise through every word and every act that might bring me nearer to the living communion with the holy Savior who I treat so unbareably. Here is the entire poem:

from The Temple (1633), by George Herbert:

The Agonie.
Philosophers have measur’d mountains,
Fathom’d the depths of seas, of states, and kings,
Walk’d with a staffe to heav’n, and traced fountains:
But there are two vast, spacious things,
The which to measure it doth more behove:
Yet few there are that sound them; Sinne and Love.

Who would know Sinne, let him repair
Unto mount Olivet; there shall he see
A man so wrung with pains, that all his hair,
His skinne, his garments bloudie be.
Sinne is that presse and vice, which forceth pain
To hunt his cruell food through ev’ry vein.

Who knows not Love, let him assay
And taste that juice, which on the crosse a pike
Did set again abroach;1 then let him say
If ever he did taste the like.
Love in that liquour sweet and most divine,
Which my God feels as bloud; but I, as wine.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

"My beloved is mine, and I am his; He feedeth among the lilies" by Francis Quarles

Here is a beautiful poem so full of the love of Christ that I recognize, a mark of the fellowship of the wounded heart of those pierced by the glory and goodness and love of the Lord so that they feel an undieing love that sceptic aspersions cannot put out:

16. My beloved is mine, and I am his; He feedeth among the lilies
By Francis Quarles (1592–1644)

EV’N like two little bank-dividing brooks,

That wash the pebbles with their wanton streams,

And having rang’d and search’d a thousand nooks,

Meet both at length in silver-breasted Thames,

Where in a greater current they conjoin:
So I my best-beloved’s am; so he is mine.

Ev’n so we met; and after long pursuit,

Ev’n so we joyn’d; we both became entire;

No need for either to renew a suit,

For I was flax and he was flames of fire:
Our firm-united souls did more than twine;

So I my best-beloved’s am; so he is mine.

If all those glitt’ring Monarchs that command

The servile quarters of this earthly ball,

Should tender, in exchange, their shares of land,
I would not change my fortunes for them all:

Their wealth is but a counter to my coin:

The world’s but theirs; but my beloved’s mine.

Nay, more; If the fair Thespian Ladies all

Should heap together their diviner treasure:
That treasure should be deem’d a price too small

To buy a minute’s lease of half my pleasure;

’Tis not the sacred wealth of all the nine

Can buy my heart from him, or his, from being mine.

Nor Time, nor Place, nor Chance, nor Death can bow
My least desires unto the least remove;

He’s firmly mine by oath; I his by vow;

He’s mine by faith; and I am his by love;

He’s mine by water; I am his by wine,

Thus I my best-beloved’s am; thus he is mine.

He is my Altar; I, his Holy Place;

I am his guest; and he, my living food;

I’m his by penitence; he mine by grace;

I’m his by purchase; he is mine, by blood;

He’s my supporting elm; and I his vine;
Thus I my best beloved’s am; thus he is mine.

He gives me wealth; I give him all my vows:

I give him songs; he gives me length of dayes;

With wreaths of grace he crowns my conqu’ring brows,

And I his temples with a crown of Praise,
Which he accepts as an everlasting signe,

That I my best-beloved’s am; that he is mine.

Sunday, September 10, 2006

A Wise Reflection on the Best Kinde of Woman to Look For

Upon kinde and true Love

'TIS not how witty, nor how free,

Nor yet how beautifull she be,

But how much kinde and true to me.

Freedome and Wit none can confine,

And Beauty like the Sun doth shine,
But kinde and true are onely mine.

Let others with attention sit,

To listen, and admire her wit,

That is a rock where Ile not split

Let others dote upon her eyes,
And burn their hearts for sacrifice,

Beauty's a calm where danger lyes.

But Kinde and True have been long tried

A harbour where we may confide,

And safely there at anchor ride.
From change of winds there we are free,

And need not feare Storme's tyrannie,

Nor Pirat, though a Prince he be.

-Aurelian Townshend

(Herbert J.C. Grierson, ed. (1886–1960). Metaphysical Lyrics & Poems of the 17th C. 1921. )