Before the wooden altar waits the mass
Of huddled subjects, meanest of our class;
And orators (the likes of whom would bring
Much woe to Cicero and bards who sing
Of days of old, of ancient godlings true)
The passing of the seasons bid adieu.
As our leaders damn those who would object,
We are commanded to give our respect
To those exalted beings in our midst,
To those who throw and to those who commit,
To those who wield the icy disk and staff,
To wondrous grain, set sep’rate from the chaff.
But hark! ‘tis nearly time to call the roll,
So crane your necks, dear vassals, and behold:
Before us, now, our idols nobly stand,
Like figures bronzed, untarnished grails in hand;
These sphere and rod’s captains here lay their claim
To immortality and ageless fame.
O! see the smiles, see the jubilation!
Hear the limp praise of our adulation!
Turn eyes, I beg you, to your congregation,
Who ‘pon this hour hold little elation,
And see the heresy deep in their minds,
That festers within while they’re here confined:
Watch each name read increase the dread of those
Whose lids on work cruel Somnus ere did close;
Lamenting time’s footfalls, they sit and twitch,
To be away from this place is their wish.
Still others hear a siren’s song demand
That victuals’ succor should be near at hand;
But mired here, no quarter can be found
And a duet of grumblings shakes the ground.
Now cast your orbs to those along your side,
And see whose absence indicates no pride
In such dauntless accomplishments of play;
Pray tell, why must we never stay away?
When at last the long homily has ceased,
We wait on bended knee to be released;
But they approach the altar de novo,
To say (O God!), time for the picture show.
Cowed mass, for this offense we must not stand;
Rise up! throw off your fetters, and demand
Equality, at long last, what relief!
To wit, we must cause prelates of our fief
To cease idolatry, and laud the laity,
Who, ‘stead of field, are masters of, say, poetry.