Prose Poem: Malice Behind the Mask

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Hogarth’s Country Dance

The esteemed guests streamed into the candle lit foyer
And dissolved into a sea of idle courtly ritual,
Landowners, majors, magistrates, slender maidens
And fair matrons all slithered into the modestly gilded hall so
Discreetly adorned by understated gluttony. Their lofty manners,
Their shield ; their feigned courtesy, disguise for icy hearts.

Only a thin veneer of silky decorum coats their acrid tongues, 
For them, honest men are but emotional beasts to be
Snared and skinned by slander most gleeful and vicious,
Leaving in their wake their perverse masterpieces—
Hollow shells that would make a taxidermist proud.

Petaled confetti is set adrift upon powdered faces and intricate wigs lost in Laughter, Chatter, and the Clatter of soles ; and as Measured gaits of the Minuet Mingled ‘Mongst The Music and Morphed into the Milieu, well bred ladies politely pricked with veiled Slights of envy, and the men indulged their ornery humor, turning giddy at the sight of Misery, their openly secret delight.

Meandering through the dense meadow of decadent masters are the servants who carry Silver platters of pheasants and plum wine. Their obedient stony facades hide hearts That lust after larceny. Birds of the same feather, separated only by station.

Alas! Heaven cries as it looks down to judge…….King Yama lets out a sigh and asks:

In this hall of monsters, who is modest still?
In this world of wickedness, who is upright still?
In this land of lies…..who is honest still?

Comment

Poem inspired by the Taoist Treatise of Response and Retribution moral maxims that warn against: Hiding cruelty and malice behind a gentle facade  (offense 66, page 14),  To envy those doing well, wishing for them poverty and disgrace (page 11, offense 42), To indulge in excess revelry and luxury (offense 52, page 12and to Secretly plot to hurt the good and kind (Offense 2, page 4).

The Treatise also teaches that based on the severity of an offense, the offender will be punished by Heaven by having either a period(s) of 3 months or 12 years shaved off his lifespan and accompanying misfortunes (i.e. legal, disasters, illness etc.). Likewise, virtue will lead to an increase of lifespan (by periods of 100 days or 12 years) and various blessings such as wealth, health and prosperity etc.

Public Domain translation with commentary of the Treatise of Response and Retribution:

https://archive.org/details/Treatise2014Edition

Public Domain  2017 Liturgy Version of the Treatise of the Illustrious Sage on Response and Retribution

It is highly recommended that all daily recite this liturgy version of the Treatise. Doing so will eradicate evil karma and draw in a myriad of blessings.

Poem and post released into Public Domain

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13 thoughts on “Prose Poem: Malice Behind the Mask

  1. i think if you modernized the crowd that is the focus of your criticism & in addition the language, you’d be on to a winner. your alliterative flow is a little overdone sometimes, i know it can be tempting, but it doesn’t make for a variegated read when you have 5 or 6 words alliterating in a single line. also, try to control your position, you can sound too authoritative at times, this is because the density of adjectives makes your description over intense.
    your writing has a lot of potential, it just needs some tweaks. i am no authority, you could ignore my observations & many many people would agree with you, my observations are my own.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Daniel, thanks for dropping by, I would say that in any other situation, the alliteration would be too much, but in this case, it was done to roughly emulate the movements of a minuet type dance, with the sudden succession of “M” sounds to describe the part with the rapid steps and the more distanced and soft “morph” and “milieu” alluding to the graceful gliding parts . The intensity is to emulate the general complexity of the atmosphere, for when you have so many people, thoughts, music and interaction (and malice), I suppose there is a tension waiting to burst. It is a reference to the ornamental preference of the era.

      Nevertheless, you raise good points. I understand a lot of this can be considered archaic, but the inspiration sort of just happened after I recommend you the Barry Lyndon clip, which also reminded me of the final masquerade of Patrice Leconte’s Ridicule and this narration scene from the Age of Innocence: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8r-Po2g7HvA

      I am looking to write more modern inspired poems for my next works in order to reach a wider audience, I’m just looking for the “click” to set the ball rolling.

      As always, thank you for your honest and detailed appraisal, I know you are a busy man with a lot of duties, thus, thank you taking the time analyze and raise concerns.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. that you have reasons is sufficient, not everyone does. but i think your thoughts toward contemporary ideas is a step in the right direction. i used to write archaic work many years ago & found it impossible to find readers, maybe i didn’t do it well, but i don’t think that was it on the whole, it was that people want something relevant & current, but still intelligent. at least i think so. i look forward to reading your new efforts. one more word of advice, look close to home, look around you & speak honestly, but don’t invest yourself entirely, step back. this sounds oxymoronic, but i promise it is possible.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Good points, I feel if we could blend the intricateness of the old with the relevance and sleekness of the new, and create a work where the technical brilliance and wisdom of the past can exist subtly in the more natural, minimalist and delightfully asymmetrical forms and qualities of the new, we could create great poetry. Nonetheless, I would love to see your earlier works based on Milton and Blake (which iirc you mentioned in your interview). I feel there will be strong interest in them as the recent interview with Robert has brought you a wider audience.

        Lastly, fine advice, I feel oxymoronic is often profound since life is rarely straightforward and we often have to entertain conflicting yet mutually complimenting aspects. Just like even though fire and water are opposites, without steam, there would be no power.

        Like

  2. This is very profound and such a great work you have done here! I am so happy to have been shown this link, and to be a part of your community, now ❤ Thank you so much! A blessing to know that others understand.

    Tamara

    Liked by 1 person

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