Search This Blog

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Fast Day 93 March 12 2009 {Home Thoughts From Abroad}

Home Thoughts From Abroad

Oh! to be in America when the Bubble is in bloom!
and have a pension fully invested in bonds and equities!
To be in the Boom! A house with emblem picket fence,
round which chestnut, elm, and ash bud
in the rainy, juvenile spring
in America now!

And after the 4th quarter of 2008,
there follow the quarters of oh-nine;
I see the foliage of trees become as sparse
as my aging hair; trees victim of unceasing
flux, and blight, a full panoply of agent-orange
to drive the hedged row to extinction;
no bird stops to sing, save the dove in mourning.
Boom and Bust! Go hike, young man, in newly verdant
fields, and view nature gory in tooth and claw!
nature! - determined by evolution's invisible hand,
just as our markets optimized by Adam Smith
and his long dead throttling grasp! beware the bear
rumbling by, who hasn't slept all winter, and
who wanders to the stream, lean and ugly of no cheer.

farvos madoff ? play by the flowing bourne!
enjoy and fill your heart with joy, momento
mori, steal away before the Bust's return!


I guess one would call this comic or satire or something along those lines.
It is about the idea of capitalism being a system which cycles between boom and bust.
The poem is based on Robert Browning's Home Thoughts From Abroad "Oh, to be in England..." and sort of blew up from 18 lines to 22.

line 4. chestnut, elm, and ash are trees endangered by blight and disease.

line 10. agent-orange = Agent Orange the anti-foliant used in Vietnam.

line 16. Adam Smith, the Scottish economist, referred to the invisible hand of markets that efficiently determine prices. There is a parallelism here to some "unseen" hand that moves evolution.

line 17. throttling may mean strangling or to increase speed, the two opposite meanings reflecting boom versus bust. Sort of bi-polar.

line 17. bear - financial markets going down.

line 20. farvos madoff? why (are you) so (like Bernie) Madoff ? Neo-Yiddish for something like don't be a shmuck. It is bi-polar, like capitalism's boom and bust: it could mean to fly high as a financial genius, or to be a goniff and end up in jail.

line 21. a momento mori is an indication or symbol of death - a reminder that from dust to dust.

line 22. steal away: to escape and it also recalls the original meaning of madoff.


Ruth said...

I like the tree metaphor, as in money growing on them.

Montag said...

You're right.
You know, I wrote it, but I try to get these things done, and I never really stop to think about it sometimes.

That whole bit about trees, agent orange anti-foliant, and metaphor never really quite registered on the top of my consciousness.