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Davis X. Machina

People may know Geoffrey Burgon's setting. It ran under the closing titles of the BBC/Alec Guinness Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy.

Davis X. Machina

He's now considered old-fashioned, and no one reads Spoon River Anthology now -- though it was a high school staple, but Edgar Lee Masters knew politics:

Enoch Dunlap:

Enoch Dunlap

How many times, during the twenty years
I was your leader, friends of Spoon River,
Did you neglect the convention and caucus,
And leave the burden on my hands
Of guarding and saving the people’s cause?-
Sometimes because you were ill;
Or your grandmother was ill;
Or you drank too much and fell asleep;
Or else you said: “He is our leader,
All will be well; he fights for us;
We have nothing to do but follow.”
But oh, how you cursed me when I fell,
And cursed me, saying I had betrayed you,
In leaving the caucus room for a moment,
When the people’s enemies, there assembled,
Waited and watched for a chance to destroy
The Sacred Rights of the People.
You common rabble! I left the caucus
To go to the urinal!

People should take politicians, and politics as a profession more seriously, instead of treating it like a joke.


Davis, I read Spoon River Anthology in school (though I admit it was a very long time ago -- twenty-one years in a couple of months, as a matter of fact) and even performed one of the pieces in my one on-stage appearance in four years of drama classes. (Teacher said I was too fat to appear onstage, but that time it was a required class project and she couldn't keep me out. I think I might've been less offended had she not been so stout herself.)

There's something of politics -- and it's not nice, but it is human; that's why it's one of my favorite bits -- in the bit of SRA I chose to read:

Judge Selah Lively

Suppose you stood just five feet two,
And had worked your way as a grocery clerk,
Studying law by candle light
Until you became an attorney at law?
And then suppose through your diligence,
And regular church attendance,
You became attorney for Thomas Rhodes,
Collecting notes and mortgages,
And representing all the widows
In the Probate Court? And through it all
They jeered at your size, and laughed at your clothes
And your polished boots? And then suppose
You became the County Judge?
And Jefferson Howard, and Kinsey Keene,
And Harmon Whitney, and all the giants
Who had sneered at you, were forced to stand
Before the bar and say "Your Honor" --
Well, don’t you think it was natural
That I made it hard for them?

El Jefe

@Davis X. Machina,

There's also a lovely setting from the Taize school of sacred singing (I lack the HTML to get the accent acute on that ending "e") of the Song of Simeon I've played several times at Maundy Thursday services as a show-closer. I like Burgon's setting very much too.

El Jefe


I think you will find that 1) always, always, irony is God's favorite law of thermodynamics and 2) God is a lot more fond of atheists of your stripe than y'all are entirely comfortable with :)


I value that one ("love" may not quite be the correct word) deeply too, it's one of the truest American poems (truest written by an American and truest about America) ever written.

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