This is a brief literary analysis of William Yeats’s famous poem, “The Second Coming,” as it can be understood in the context of the poet’s cyclical historical system in A Vision: An Explanation of Life Founded Upon the Writings of Giraldus and upon Certain Doctrines Attributed to Kusta Ben Luka.
This is a brief literary analysis of William Yeats’s famous poem, “The Second Coming,” as it can be understood in the context of the poet’s cyclical historical system in A Vision: An Explanation of Life Founded Upon the Writings of Giraldus and upon Certain Doctrines Attributed to Kusta Ben Luka.
John Donne’s Holy Sonnet 18 is one in a series of nineteen Divine Meditations which were composed shortly after his conversion to Anglicanism. They were first published two years after his death. Influenced by both the English and Italian forms, Sonnet 18 consists of three quatrains written in iambic pentameter, culminating in a rhyming couplet. Donne uses this structure to ask pertinent questions about the nature of the true Christian church in his time. These questions are asked in the context of one continual and central metaphor of marriage and sexuality. In a poem rich with this complex imagery, the poet compares and contrasts the various attributes of the Roman Catholic, Lutheran, and Anglican churches. Instead of presenting any particular thesis, Donne’s sonnet is framed far more in the form of a petition. He does not conclude anything in the closing lines about where the true church is found as such, although he does suggest something of what it must possess. Instead, he complements his original entreaty to God in the first line with clarifying question throughout the rest of the sonnet.
Show me, dear Christ, thy spouse so bright and clear.
What! Is it she which on the other shore
Goes richly painted? Or which, robbed and tore,
Laments and mourns in Germany and here?
Sleeps she a thousand, then peeps up one year?
Is she self-truth, and errs? Now new, now outwore?
Doth she, and did she, and shall she evermore
On one, on seven, or on no hill appear?
Dwells she with us, or like adventuring knights
First travel we to seek, and then make love?
Betray, kind husband, thy spouse to our sights,
And let mine amorous soul court thy mild dove,
Who is most true and pleasing to thee then
When she is embraced and open to most men.
In the first line of the first quatrain, Donne presents his original petition to Christ. Here, he introduces a metaphor of marriage, where Christ is the husband and the church is his wife. This metaphor is grounded in a Scriptural precedent, taken especially from the Pauline epistles. The poet is not simply looking for the one church, i.e. ‘Christ’s spouse,’ he is also looking for the pure church, i.e. that which is ‘bright and clear.’ The author desires to find a congregation that he deems both spiritually valid and spiritually righteous. These sentiments are far more understandable when we become aware of the politically schismatic state of the Christian churches in the 16th and 17th centuries, when Donne lived and wrote. This political atmosphere forms the backdrop for his ecclesiastical confliction throughout the poem.
In the rest of the quatrain, the author sets up a comparative dichotomy between the Roman Catholic church on the one hand and the Protestant schismatics on the other. The Latin Church is ‘on the other shore,’ dominating much of continental Europe. The Anglican and Lutheran assemblies, on the other hand, are in England and Germany respectively. Donne draws a sharp line between the two by way of a prostitution metaphor. Rome is ‘she…which goes richly painted,’ while the Protestant bodies, ‘robbed and tore, lament and mourn in Germany and here.’ The poet is, in essence, calling the Catholic Church a painted up whore. This pejorative attack is specifically addressing that church’s emphasis on ceremony and ornament, which Protestants considered ostentatious to true worship. It was probably also directed toward the Romans’ practice of selling indulgences, which the author parallels with a woman selling her body. Introducing this prostitute imagery here, the poet will continue to utilize it throughout the rest of the poem.
The poet continues to expound on the dichotomy between Rome and Protestantism throughout the whole second quatrain. In the first line, he criticizes a typical Reformation argument against the validity of the Catholic Church. The argument states that the true church was apostate for centuries until Protestantism’s ecclesiastical revolutions. But Donne points out the apparent ludicrousness of this claim, which would suggest that a valid congregation did not exist for almost a millennium, just ‘peeping up one year.’ But as in the first quatrain, Donne does not merely denounce the assertions of a particular church. In the next line, he showcases his consideration when he turns around to address Roman Catholic assertions. ‘Is she self truth, and errs?’ He is mocking Latin claims to ecclesiastical inerrancy, perhaps referencing documented contradictions and differences in various creeds and councils. Finally, in the last lines, Donne asks a question about the plethora of separate churches that have sprung up throughout the centuries. To do this, he presents a new metaphor of hills. The ‘one hill’ represents the temple mount in Jerusalem, the ‘seven hills’ refer to the geographical heart of Rome, and the hill-less land represents a scattered Protestant church. The poet speaks in this way in order to emphasize his confliction, and the probable confliction of many others. Donne is asking this fundamental question continually in his verse: how can I know which church is true with all of these separate claims to both ecclesial authority and doctrinal purity?
As well as addressing both Catholic and Protestant claims, the first two lines of this set also have the whore imagery of the first quatrain in view. While ‘sleeps she a thousand’ has immediate ties with the clause that directly follows it, it also has a connection with the second question of line two: ‘now new, now outwore?’ This blow is aimed at the constant schism within the Protestant tradition, and it certainly hits its mark, even in Donne’s early societal context. Donne presents an image of a hooker who grossly sleeps with hundreds of different men. The woman presents an initial physical appeal when she is ‘new,’ but this appeal is quickly lost after sex. Almost before she stops being new, she is already ‘outwore.’ In these lines, Donne uses this image to suggest that the Reformation church is analogous to this prostitute, where someone might be drawn to a sect, then to another sect, and so on and so forth ad infinitum.
Quatrain 3 & Closing Couplet
In the first two lines of this last quatrain, Donne employs language with even more double imagery. Returning to the prostitute motif, he sets up another contrast between the various Protestant churches, which usually emphasized the importance of faith regardless of circumstance, and the Roman Catholic Church, which tended to place a high premium on the holiness of place, relic, and pilgrimage. Donne’s words communicate two separate images where “adventuring knights” are both making a pilgrimage to the Holy Sepulcher, and wandering around sleeping with beautiful women. In both parts of the metaphor, the knights refer to those who seek the true church, including Donne himself. In the first image, the question is whether the church is present with every man, or whether those who seek her must make a figurative pilgrimage to the Middle East. The second image, on the other hand, returns to the prostitute theme, but it does so in a way that might seem strange or offensive given Donne’s social context.
The shift of Donne’s sexuality analogies here is striking. Up until this point, his metaphor of marriage has apparently been drawn from New Testament texts (e.g. Ephesians), and his metaphor of whoredom from Old Testament texts (e.g. Hosea). As such, metaphoric allegations of prostitution throughout the poem have been specifically derogatory. But the author dramatically alters his prostitute theme in the last quatrain and couplet of the sonnet. Sexual intercourse becomes a moral object, at least in some contexts, and it seems to be analogous in Donne’s mind to membership in any particular Christian body. This depiction continues on in the next lines as Donne asks the husband to ‘betray’ his wife to the various people who are ‘searching’ for intercourse. In the poet’s portrayal, he presents a petition to court the husband’s ‘mild dove’ with his ‘amorous soul,’ i.e. with his erotic desire. Consequently, the husband’s ‘betrayal’ assumes connotations both of revelation and treachery. Symbolically, Donne sets up a direct correlation between this sexual petition on the one hand, and his own Christ-directed petition to find the true church on the other.
The sonnet’s concluding couplet also concludes this metaphor of prostitution. While the poem opened with a standard, grounded image of Christ as husband and church as wife, it closes in an almost entirely different manner. The metaphoric husband’s ‘mild dove,’ i.e. his wife, is faithful to him in a way opposite that which we might imagine. Donne suggests that this wife becomes ‘most true and pleasing’ to her spouse when she is ‘embraced and open to most men.’ That is to say, the husband’s wife is most faithful to him when she is whoring herself out to as many people as possible. In this way, the poet turns the implications of ‘prostitute’ completely around in the last six lines of the sonnet. He concludes that when the wife of his depiction is sexually unfaithful to the greatest extreme, it is then and only then that she has reached her true consummate faithfulness. This wife pleases her husband the most when she is busy pleasing other men.I n the context of the metaphor’s relation to reality, of course, the ‘husband’ refers to Christ, and his ‘mild dove’ to the church. In this manner, Donne uses these particular images to initiate a discussion about the church, and specifically what makes here true, faithful, and authoritative. In this closing couplet, Donne concludes his line of questioning by determining that the church attains these qualities when her doors are open to the masses. What perhaps is more intriguing than what he says, however, is the way in which he says it. Donne originally uses the hooker terminology in a disparaging manner. This is probably what we would expect, given the cultural-theological context in which he wrote. But mid-way through the sonnet, the nature of his analogy shifts diametrically. By the closing verses of the piece, Donne seems to have reached only one conclusion: that the church ought to be as much like a whore as possible. Donne’s use of this particular image in this way is devoid of religious precedent, and thus seems to be arbitrary to some extent. His rationale is, at least, open to speculation.
Throughout this entire sonnet, Donne is primarily concerned with where he can find the Christian church in her ultimate truth and purity. In this respect, he does not come to any definite conclusion, presenting conflicted pictures of several different sects. While he refers to the Roman Catholic Church as a prostitute and the Protestant churches as victims near the beginning of his verse, the analogical nature of his prostitute theme undergoes a diametrical change in the middle of the poem. Donne uses this rich, complex, and sometimes unexplainable imagery to formulate a cursory ecclesiastical picture for his time, where different churches were overcome with strife and corruption. This sonnet does not serve much of a purpose in providing a cohesive comparison of these different denominations. Ultimately, however, it gives insight into the religious confliction Donne himself experienced, culminating in his pleas for church universality in the closing couplet.
Sonnet 18 marks the beginning of a sequence of sonnets, all of which were probably addressed to a young man as homosexual love poems. Like all Shakespearean sonnets, Sonnet 18 consists of three quatrains written in iambic pentameter, culminating in a closing couplet. The author uses this common form to discuss the relationship between the object of his affection and the eventual destruction that everyone receives from the hands of nature. Throughout the entire poem, it seems that Shakespeare is asking one primary question: “where can I find my lover’s immortality?” The author considers this immortality to form a significant part of ultimate beauty, without which something would not really possess a true beauty at all. In seeking an answer to his question, the poet uses personification, metaphor, and a number of other literary devices to discuss the relationship between time, eternity, change and the young man’s immortality. The poet continually notes that all natural beauties eventually erode under the steady force of nature itself and its ever-changing course. This is why, for him, it is so important to find the secret to his lover’s immortality. Ultimately, however, the sonnet becomes less and less of a love poem as such, and more and more of an homage to poetry’s power to bestow eternity on its subjects.
The full text of the sonnet follows below. As stated, it is written in fourteen lines with standard iambic pentameter.
Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day?
Thou art more lovely and more temperate;
Rough winds do shake the darling buds of May,
And summer’s lease hath all too short a date;
Sometime too hot the eye of heaven shines,
And often is his gold complexion dimm’d;
And every fair from fair sometime declines,
By chance or nature’s changing course untrimm’d;
But thy eternal summer shall not fade,
Nor lose possession of that fair thou ow’st;
Nor shall Death brag thou wander’st in his shade,
When in eternal lines to time thou grow’st:
So long as men can breath or eyes can see,
So long lives this, and this gives life to thee.
The sonnet’s opening line posits a simple question of comparison, which the rest of the poem seeks to answer. The poet addresses this question to his loved one: ‘Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day?’ The question is rhetorical, and it expects a negative response. That is to say, the question itself implies that if anyone were to compare the man with the summer’s day, the man would clearly be superior. The poet then goes on to compare and contrast the two anyway.
The second line is the first contrasting clause. In this case, ‘temperate’ is a play on words. When it refers to the summer’s day, it means moderate or mild weather temperatures. But when it refers to the sonnet’s subject, it means moderation or even-temperedness in mood. In this way, it easily contrasts with ‘Rough winds’ in the next line, which Shakespeare uses to emphasize the mutability of summer’s beauty. This becomes a common theme as the poem progresses. Lines three and four both personify certain aspects of nature. Summer is used interchangeably with her various attributes, either ‘summer’s day’ or ‘darling buds of May’ in this case, and this is also a common pattern throughout the poem. The personification of the weather as a renter of property in Line 4 is coupled with the metaphoric implication that the seasons are property that can actually be rented. This imagery is used to assert the transitory nature of whatever beauty summer might possess. The lease of summer is short lived—it is only around for a few months before a lease is taken out on the following seasons.
The poet uses more personification in the first two lines of the second quatrain, calling the sun ‘the eye of heaven’ and mentioning its complexion. The Oxford English Dictionary indicates that, in Shakespeare’s time, ‘complexion’ had a double meaning, referring both to the natural appearance of a person’s face and their internal temperament or mood. In this context, it seems that the Sun can be equated with both the personified summer itself and the source of summer’s corruption. Summer is the sun that shines too hot, and he dims his own complexion. The very source of Summer’s beauty is also the source of Summer’s defects. In this way, the poet appears to regard summer as a season of extremes, and this is confirmed in other portions of the poem. In the first quatrain, Shakespeare describes summer’s lease as ‘too short.’ Here likewise the sun shines ‘too hot,’ and in the next line it has already become dark. This mutability is antithetical to Shakespeare’s immortal beauty, and it quickly compromises the summer’s fairness as seen in line seven. In the third line, the comeliness of ‘the darling buds of May’ was shaken due to the rough weather. This is the same thing that is happening here, either due to the sun’s excessive heat or his lack of sufficient heat. The eighth line summarizes a key thought—if chance and nature’s standard course remains unstopped, then everything both beautiful and good will have an end.
The young man’s ultimate immortal beauty is founded on one specific thing, as we will see in the closing couplet. Without that one thing, the young man is not too far removed from the mutability of the summer’s day. This is the poet’s dilemma before the poem, which is itself one extended comparative response. In this way, the imagery of the first quatrain, and this second one far more so, takes on multiple meanings. The poet specifically compares the mortal summer’s day and the young man after he is made immortal, so the descriptions of the summer’s day also refer to Shakespeare’s lover while he was still mortal. Consequently, even as Summer is corrupted by various natural aspects of himself, so also is the young man corrupted by a natural aspect of himself, namely his human mortality. The poet’s lover is affected by this weakness, for ‘every fair from fair sometime declines,’ caused either ‘by chance’ or the unstopped natural course of change.
3rd Quatrain and Closing Couplet
The ninth line in the third quatrain introduces a significant alteration in the tone of the poem. Up to this point, the author has taken pains to emphasize summer’s temporary nature. Now he switches the entire focus from summer’s imperfections to his lover’s perfections, describing the eternal state of ‘summer’ in his life. The young man of the sonnet is no longer mortal and no longer mutable. Shakespeare claims that even though all natural beauties will fade, the beauty of the poem’s subject will not, nor will he lose any of the fairness he possesses. Indeed, the poet rejects all notions of the temporary, the mutable, or the mortal as they relate to his loved one. As a result, he goes so far as to exclude him from Death’s domain in the thirteenth line. The object of the author’s perfection has become the ultimate standard by which other beautiful things are measured—the ultimate summer, as it were. The young man has effectively become independent of any negative authority, whether natural or otherwise.
But all of these assertions are conditional for the poet, founded on the thought that is expressed in the twelfth line, and confirmed and summarized in lines thirteen and fourteen. Previously in the poem, Shakespeare has focused on how he ought to answer the sonnet’s question. He answers it here. The young man and his beauty have a place in eternity in a figurative sense, and that place is established by Shakespeare’s verse. It is only ‘when in eternal lines to time [he] grow’st,’ that the subject’s summer becomes eternal and unfading. By the end of the poem, however, the sonnet’s thought has become far more about the author himself and his work than about the poem’s subject. It seems almost as if, as he has tried to establish an undying lover, that the poet has ultimately created a young man in his verse who does not really have much in common with his original muse. The closing couplet uses both anaphora and alliteration: ‘So long as men can breath or eyes can see, / So long lives this and this give life to thee.’ These literary devices emphasize the poet’s ultimate power over time’s jurisdiction. This is so much the case that, in The Desire for Meaning in Law and Literature, James Boyd-White has suggested that this sonnet isn’t even a love poem at all in the proper sense of the word. Instead, it is ‘one long exercise in self-glorification.’ Whether intentionally or unintentionally, this appears to be the case. The defining characteristic of the sonnet’s subject is his immortality, which contains his beauty. This immortality is granted solely by Shakespeare in his ‘eternal lines,’ i.e. his verse. It seems, then, that the author is the ultimate force in the poem, as he emphasizes his power in bestowing a kind of eternity through poetry.
The two lines of the closing couplet also contain parallel imagery, which reference the third line of the first quatrain and the first line of the second. This parallelism equates summer’s ‘rough winds’ with the breath of men, and ‘the eye of heaven’ with the eyes of men. In this way, the poet is not only saying that the sonnet will immortalize its subject as long as humanity exists. He is also continuing to emphasize that, no matter what natural causes may compromise all natural beauties, his lover will remain impervious to their powers of change.
Throughout the entire sonnet, the author is primarily concerned with the lasting nature of the young man’s loveliness. While summer has a short lease, and many of its aspects will lessen, the poet wants an unfading ‘eternal summer’ for the youth. Unable to find a satisfactory alternative, Shakespeare trusts that his verse will be powerful enough to defy all natural laws. He hopes that it will transcend the usual course of age and death, and that his muse will likewise escape those things in a similar fashion vicariously. The poet declares this belief in his closing couplet—that as long as humanity exists, his poetry will also exist and lend an immortal fame to his sonnet’s subject. Ironically enough, in choosing this option, the poet shifts the focus from his muse to himself. In so doing, he undermines his goal, which is to immortalize his lover and muse. Instead, the only person that he immortalizes is himself, along with his verse, and the original subject of the poem becomes a secondary character.
I feel as if my hair has now been adequately memorialized.
Looks like I’ll be studying Humanities and such stuff at the University of Dallas this summer for several weeks. Brilliant.
Here’s a link to another exegetical paper I just wrote on Matthew 2:13-18, in light of the author’s appropriation of the typological prophecies of Hosea and Jeremiah:
Here’s a link to an exegetical paper I just finished, if anyone is interested:
The purpose of this essay, if it can be called that, is not to provide any sort of thesis or apologetic for any of my own particular political hypotheses . Rather, its point is to provide a brief explanatory resource for anyone interested in Locke’s state of nature, law of nature, and social contract, laying out his beliefs, his ideas, and his structure of logical argumentation. We then ask the following questions, per John Locke—
What is the state of nature?
The state of nature is a term generally used in discussions of political philosophy to denote the hypothetical human condition that precedes governmental structures. Locke considers the state of nature to be that condition in which men are free from society and government, and are able to order their actions and dispose of their possessions and persons as they see fit, all within the bounds of what he calls the “law of nature.”
What is the law of nature?
The law of nature, or Natural Law, is a system of law that is purportedly determined by nature alone, and is thus universally applicable for all men. Locke considers this law to be reason itself, which teaches that no one ought to harm another in his life, liberty, or personal property. Locke makes an argument for this based on Imago Dei. Although he presents no proof for the concept of “god” from either ontology or cosmology, he presents a system by which we could extend such a proof to define our understanding of the dignity of humanity as rational creatures, with no reference to any “special” divine revelation. Indeed, while Locke quotes Holy Writ here occasionally, it is only in an exemplarily fashion, and is not fundamental to the logical progression of any of his proofs.
For Locke, since a man has the right to life, he must also have the right to the preservation of his life. This includes things such as food and drink, it is the basis for his theory of personal property, which is fundamental to human liberty. In the state of nature, everything that nature produces must be in common. But, in order to make use of anything that nature produces, these things must at some time be appropriated by men.
What is the state of war?
The state of war, Locke declares, is “a state of enmity and destruction” in which a man declares by word or action a settled design or intention on another man’s life. In this state of war, the man declared against also has a perfect right to take the life of his attacker. For in the state of nature, in which condition the state of war exists, the so-called office of magistrate is an office which is held in common by all men to exercise as they sees fit, but only according to the law of nature. Locke reasons that a man may also take the life of a thief without violating the law of nature, whether he has declared against his life or not, for if a man plans on taking away a person’s liberty, there is no guarantee that he will not take everything else also. Thus, in some sense, declaring against the property of a man is at the same time declaring against the life of a man, and must be dealt with appropriately. In a similar vein, Locke declares that absolute slavery is lawfully impossible, for in it a master has arbitrary power over the life of his slave. This cannot be for, as Locke himself observes, a man cannot take his own life by the law of nature, as it does not belong to him, and thus he cannot render to another (by compact or conquering) a power over his life which he does not himself already possess.
What is the social contract?
The social contract, or political contract, is a theory or model, originating during the Age of Enlightenment, that typically addresses the questions of the origin of society and the legitimacy of the authority of the state over the individual. Although Locke does not take such a stark view of the state of nature as Hobbes does, he still believes that the law of nature in that condition is only ill executed and enforced. The origin of communal government, then, is founded on a pragmatic principle, wherein men give up some of their intrinsic and natural rights in order that they may be more secure in social order. It is for this reason that men form a social contract, covenanting the right of the magistrate unto some civil power among themselves. The subsequent commonwealth possesses the power to punish transgressors in making laws, to punish foreign threats in war and peace, and all of this unto the purpose of the preservation of the life and property of the society’s members according to the law of nature.
Why is absolutism inconsistent with the government of the social contract?
Lock states that monarchy (by which he means an absolutist monarchy) is an invalid form of government because it is fundamentally a relationship between two men—the ruler and the ruled. As such, it bears many similarities to the absolute slavery which Locke has already condemned. It forces both men, by definition, back into the state of nature, where both men by extension have an equal right to the office of magistrate. But while the “subject” (being in the state of nature) has only those things which are naturally afforded to him, the “monarch” (being also in the state of nature) has the authority and resources afforded to him by virtue of his supposed office of absolute magistrate, which is invalid.
Addendum & points of interest
In promulgating the theory of the Divine Right of Kings, monarchs had apparently laid claim to derivative divine power by virtue of Adam’s overarching power over the human race. In the opening section of his Second Treatise of Government, Locke dismantles this argument, making four distinct points: a.) that Adam had no divinely-granted absolute power over all of his posterity, b.) that (even if he had) it would not follow that his heirs had access to the same divinely-granted power, c.) that (even if they did) there was no way of determining which heir was the right heir, and d.) that (even if there was) there was no way to ascertain which lineage was the “eldest line of Adam’s posterity.”
Locke states that all political power must function to defend the commonwealth from foreign threats and to preserve the public good in social order. This is the purpose of political power merely because it is its origin, in the pragmatic social contract. He lists three defining aspects of this power: the right of making laws with apropos penalties, the regulation of these laws for the preservation of personal property, and this done by the force of the community (or society), which power has been given it by the people.
(as delivered on the occasion of the marriage of Daniel and Galena Berkompas by Karl von der Luft, groomsman)
The life of a chaperone is a hard one. I have come to the opinion that it must almost certainly rival the plumber’s job in both hardship and toil, requiring just as high levels of endurance, tenacity, and patience. Child’s play like underwater welding and landscaping don’t even bear mentioning compared to the work of the romantic supervisor.
The young guys and gals just don’t get it. They beg to accompany the lovey-dovey duo on the 16 mile hike, executed on a 20 degrees Christmas Eve, when a half-sane human with any grain of amour propre, or self respect, would be curled up by a crackling fire with a cup of chocolate and a copy of Hilaire Belloc’s Cautionary Tales for Children, or perhaps (depending on one’s mood) the same author’s On Nothing, and Kindred Subjects.
Are not the despots of the 20th century abolished? Are not Hitler and Stalin dead? Is might right, as Nietzsche so damningly declared? Is this 1984? Who but these would coerce an unsuspecting character into a traveling car to be the third observer to the practicing duet?
What’s a honest man to do when the two lovebirds sitting across from him have been locked in a vegetative state for the past half hour, entwined, staring at each other with the glazed expressions one might expect of a brace of cantelopes which have been cruelly and unjustly separated since birth? It is however, when the pair begins to intellectually discuss an appropriate kissing philosophy of approach for their upcoming union, when enough, as they say, becomes enough. One cannot, with good conscience, abandon them because of whatever rash vows have been made to the governing authorities. He in question has already turned around as far as he can, without becoming overly intimate with the back of his seat, practically duct-taped his face to his laptop-screen, and cranked up his music as much as a pair of reasonably priced headgear will allow. There is nothing left to do but writhe with the disposition of a consumptive girl in the presence of someone who won’t stop playing Owl City.
It is then with great gladness that I toast the wedded couple, but also the happiness of those whom they are leaving.
When one encounters the gesticulations of proud men, one is tempted to react in two different ways: to succumb to the seductive allure of brute force and slap them upside the face with an unsuspecting and appropriate implement, such as the complete cased Summa Theologica, or to retort with some superior witty repartee intended to bowl them so far backwards that they are left with a vague air of your own intellectual eminence, whether real or feigned, about the same time as they hit yesterday.
While I unabashedly recognize and acknowledge the obvious advantages of the first selection, many men and women of the modern society tend to look sideways at the antediluvian methods of the hit man. The purpose of this short essay is to provide counsel to those in need - those indeed to whom the proud man has unfortunately manifested himself.
As I take up the pen, I assume no pretense of academic excellence, erudite intelligence, general cultural acumen, or any such rot. I have merely made it my mission to, in the words of the acerbic Catholic historian Hilaire Belloc, imitate that supreme epitome of forthright literature established in Mary Had a Little Lamb. Anything more or less than this falls precariously close to either superfluous verbosity or the stylistic prose one would only expect of a Twilight fanfic.
Beginning what must rightly seem to most a damning tirade, I cannot but make a small number of qualifications for the benefit of those who find some strange and inexplicable pleasure in defending the lesser breeds of mankind. No proud men were harmed in the composition of this essay. Nor hurt. Nor even, horror of unspeakable horrors, spoken to in an excessively condescending manner. My accomplices and I readily acknowledge that we must only strive to damage the feelings of the communal proud man, not of the individual. To set the record straight, we do accept all pompous fatheads into the common brotherhood of men. Parsnips are an acquired taste. I expect that proud men are the human parsnips of the cosmos.
But let us leave all such soft stepping behind us. We can now move on to words which inspire the brave, the bold, and the brash.
There are few things which can thrust a man so low, flooding him with the shameful conviction that he deserves all the contempt of his fellows, as the effect that the proud man in his pride bestows in regular discourse. Indeed, it is the sententious and egotistic man, the man of words and airs, the man who is married to the mirror which has been his constant companion for many years - it is this man who gives all men a bad name in the eyes of the opposite sex. It is this man who must, by every self-evident moral law, assume the causal responsibility for many a suicidal thought.
We must beg to note that the methods employed by this loathsome, sanctimonious cad will differ according to audience. In the company of athletes, he must be able to declare that the can put down a 5-minuter without breaking a sweat. In an assembly of hipster kids, he will scoff at any music that may have made the Billboard 100, while keeping his face straight. In the presence of the fairer sex, he must by necessity have locks full combed, giving all real men near him the distinct impression that he pines for the dancing life of a Amazonian bird of paradise. In the presence of his inner circle, or those who are not brave enough to leave it, he is the arrogant patron. He knows, and he makes sure others know, that he considers the plain and simple being a mere ding-dong.
There is a question that remains. How ought we to deal with this proud man - this sapient being, this worm, this squashed fly on the upper lip of all humankind? How, indeed, can we while still paying some semblance of respect to the laws against assault and the basic tenets of social interaction?
The answer is simple: we must, in misquoted words, be all things to all men. To the proud man, we must show ourselves proud. We must be a thorn in the side of him who is (by his very existence) a thorn in the side of us all. Delivering bloody satire for bloody satire, twisting our knives in his figurative back, we can reveal that although it is possible for anyone to pretend to be smart, the humble among us just choose not do it most of the time.
Sometimes, however, there is no political answer. Sometimes a man must, after all, descend to the level of his primeval ancestors. If this recommended vocal gargling has no effect on the grandiose gorilla, there are but two options left to those of us who wish to remain sane. It is unfortunate that both of them abandon the established norms of sociological intercourse, but several eminent scholars have dedicated their lives to proving that neither violates any universal moral ethic. First is this: to contain any physical communication to but ye and he alone, demanding immediate satisfaction, to kill or be killed, and to thus end all fuss in a matter of moments. Perhaps a more sophisticated action is found in our second option, however. If in this man’s company, you must temporarily assume the disposition of a rabid orangutan, spreading havoc, fire, and sword throughout whatever estate you happen to currently inhabit. If you are lucky, the tribunal may have already encountered the proud man in question, and his verdict will be swift and decisive – that you were obviously induced to unstoppable madness by the provocation of the living excrescence. If less lucky, you can rest assured that many men before you have given their lives in the name of King, Country, and common human dignity.
Any of these actions taken, however, cannot but be considered far superior to the status quo.