This section is from the book "Flying Rumors", by Roy Davis.
Pragmatic James had quite a brilliant theory,
But Pragmatism's not so very plain That some small souls don't think it very queer he
Could never make "What to Believe" quite sane. Believe in any damned old thing! We fear he
Inhibited whatever crossed his grain. Old Pontius Pilate was no fool, in sooth,— He called for no reply to "What is Truth?"
Professor Pratt claimed James was simply "nutty,"
A nincompoop, a ninnyhammer, ass. We don't remember Pratt's exact terms, but he
Put James and Royce down in the idiot class: Professor Royce declared what James has got he
Stole out of Kant and Schopenhauer en masse. Which truth is true is rather hard to see, But while they pondered each drew salary.
Well, that last stanza ought to be deleted, It smacks of Bolsheviki and the blind.
Industrial Workers of the World are greeted By hangman's halters for a state of mind.
So let the Swifts and Debs, now, pray be seated Among the blest; forget what you might find.
We quench our thirst by whisky legislation;
Then why not legislate on all creation?
A book of libre, freak, cubistic verse, An icecream soda, Y. M. C. A. tang,
A jazz band booming! Dear, would it be worse, To sing the dear, old world that Omar sang?
Sweat of the brow was marked as Adam's curse, E'en from the sea-foam Aphrodite sprang.
Efficiency and correspondence schools
Can give us more efficient, toiling fools.
They tell us we must work, I want to play: The sounding sea, the murmur of the bees,—
It's not efficient down life's path to stray
And watch the checkered shadows of the trees.
Our nations need more tonnage under weigh, To carry cotton to the Southern seas.
We're big, but then we ought to cut more figure,—
Ad infinitum, bigger, bigger, bigger!
"Watch ye and pray!" so cries the Christian pastor,
A dual duty many folks forget; For most to eat must work, or graft, or fast, or
Find other ways to get in the world's debt. Long prayers in stone, like epitaphs, would last, or
We might adopt the kind used in Thibet: A water-wheel there grinds out bread and prayer; Thibetans eat and pray e'en while they swear.
'Tis far too slow to count a rosary;
One can't count beads as fast as one can sin. To water stocks, kiss Sappho's cheek, and be
A public feeder at the public bin In one short day, would wear, we must agree,
Out several strings of beads should one begin. To save a Wall Street broker one would need A forty-power prayer-wheel run full speed.
The Christian Scientist has a neat scheme, By which he simply crushes all debate:
That two and two is four he calls a dream, If it will add up better, call it eight.
He next will prove "Things are not what they seem," So Nothing's Something by this postulate;
And a large marble church is a good answer
To fools who argue prayer won't cure a cancer.
But then, why pray at all if there's no Hell?
If James is right and truth, utilitarian? Self-love is what one needs to study well;
The Golden Rule beguiles now the barbarian, Or, relegated with the creed and spell,
To by-gone days, suits students antiquarian. Since answers are not found to Why, When, Where, What matter whether one should pray or swear?
Though Christian Science proves that pains don't hurt, Tooth-ache and Mumps are simply fairy tales,
And pills and powders only so much dirt,
For "God is Love" cures all our aches and ails;
Still from a pounded thumb-nail blood will squirt, And to express one's thought all language fails.
Good Mother Mary Eddy state again
How baby's belly-ache comes from his brain!
But if at Christian Science one will flout,
A better or a worse he still must find: To ever be continually in doubt
Shows an unsettled state your settled mind; For some opinion every one must shout;
All run this race, ahead or far behind. Can any searcher, by himself alone, Find out the truth, or finding make it known?
Small people are absurd or simply sinners;
Write your "I" large, don't whisper, shout, build big; Bryan, Dowie, Hohenzollerns, as beginners,
Cut a large swath, idealized the pig. A piggish trait is common to most winners;
Salome's dance outstrips a horn-pipe jig. A whale and minnow, to the common eyes, Have their importance measured by their size.
One has to get a nation's ear then hold it,
And then his words are stamped as legal though!..
Who thinks a fact is true because he told it,— Truth's a chameleon, he should, be taught.
A nation often listens if you scold it,
And, child-like, oft by novelty is caught;
But in the morning it may toss the ball
That at high noon it will not touch at all.
Opinion's right if one can make it go:
Polygamy was right in Salt Lake City, And Polyandry in Himalya's snow
Is stamped approved; the Yankee Doodle ditty Was once this nation's song for high and low;
A presidential joke is always witty: And Marshall or even Hylan is respected, If once he wins,—even Wilson—now rejected.
In politics the question we confuse;
It is not war or Tariff or the Trust But whether H- or H------shall amuse
The gaping public with a cloud of dust. For Bryan's theorems now all parties use,
A winning candidate will prove them just. Ideas are not made or found by chance, But nations grow to them as boys to pants.
For customs, costumes, creeds,—all common things, Change with the centuries, which plainly shows
That Heaven and Hell, laws, slang, and finger rings Are neither right nor wrong, as some suppose.
Still every generation takes its flings;
The leaders lead where still it points its nose.
While Reason chooses hoop-skirt first, then hobble,
So will it call for this and then that bauble.