Poem of the day

Symposium
by Xenophanes (c. 570-c. 478 BCE)

νῦν γὰρ δὴ ζάπεδον καθαρὸν καὶ χεῖρες ἁπάντων
      καὶ κύλικες: πλεκτοὺς δ᾽ ἀμφιτιθεῖ στεφάνους,
ἄλλος δ᾽ εὐῶδες μύρον ἐν φιάλῃ παρατείνει:
      κρητὴρ δ᾽ ἕστηκεν μεστὸς ἐϋφροσύνης:
ἄλλος δ᾽ οἶνος ἑτοῖμος, ὃς οὔποτέ φησι προδώσειν,
      μείλιχος ἐν κεράμοις ἄνθεος ὀσδόμενος:
ἐν δὲ μέσοις ἁγνὴν ὀδμὴν λιβανωτὸς ἵησι,
      ψυχρὸν δ᾽ ἔστιν ὕδωρ καὶ γλυκὺ καὶ καθαρόν:
πάρκεινται δ᾽ ἄρτοι ξανθοὶ γεραρή τε τράπεζα
      τυροῦ καὶ μέλιτος πίονος ἀχθομένη:
βωμὸς δ᾽ ἄνθεσιν ἂν τὸ μέσον πάντη πεπύκασται
      μολπὴ δ᾽ ἀμφὶς ἔχει δώματα καὶ θαλίη:
χρὴ δὲ πρῶτον μὲν θεὸν ὑμνεῖν εὔφρονας ἄνδρας
      εὐφήμοις μύθοις καὶ καθαροῖσι λόγοις:
σπείσαντας δὲ καὶ εὐξαμένους τὰ δίκαια δύνασθαι
      πρήσσειν — ταῦτα γὰρ ὦν ἐστὶ προχειρότερον —
οὐχ ὕβρις πίνειν ὁπόσον κεν ἔχων ἀφίκοιο
      οἴκαδ᾽ ἄνευ προπόλου μὴ πάνυ γηραλέος.
ἀνδρῶν δ᾽ αἰνέω τοῦτον, ὃς ἐσθλὰ πιὼν ἀναφαίνῃ,
      ὥς οἱ μνημοσύνη καὶ τόνος ἀμφ᾽ ἀρετῆς:
οὔτε μάχας διέπει Τιτήνων οὔτε Γιγάντων,
      οὐδέ τι Κενταύρων, πλάσματα τῶν προτέρων,
ἢ στάσιας σφεδανάς: τοῖς οὐδὲν χρηστὸν ἔνεστι:
      θεῶν δὲ προμηθείην αἰὲν ἔχειν ἀγαθόν.

Poem of the day

Dic Christi Veritas
attributed to Philippe de Grève (c. 1160-1236)

Dic Christi Veritas
dic cara raritas,
dic rara Caritas,
ubi nunc habitas,
aut in valle Visionis,
aut in throno Pharaonis,
aut in alto cum Nerone,
aut in antro cum Timone,
viscella scirpea
cum Moyse plorante,
vel in domo Romulea
cum Bulla fulminante?

Bulla fulminante
sub iudice tonante,
reo appelante,
sententia gravante,
veritas opprimitur,
distrahitur et venditur,
iusticia prostante.
itur et reccuritur
ad Curiam, nec ante
quis quid consequitur,
donec exuitur
ultimo quadrante.

Respondit Caritas;
homo, quid dubitas,
quid me sollicitas?
non sum quod usitas
nec in euro nec in austro,
nec in foro nec in claustro,
nec in bysso nec in cuculla,
nec in bello nec in bulla.
de Iericho sum veniens,
ploro cum sauciato
quem duplex Levi transiens
non astitit grabato.

Poem of the day

Song
by John Gay (1685-1782)

O ruddier than the cherry,
O sweeter than the berry,
   O Nymph more bright
   Than moonshine night,
Like kidlings blithe and merry.
Ripe as the melting cluster,
No lily has such lustre;
   Yet hard to tame,
   As raging flame,
And fierce as storms that bluster.

Poem of the day

Oratio ad Patrem
by Hildebert (c. 1055-1133)

Alpha et Ω, magne Deus
Heli, Heli, Deus meus,
Cujus virtus totum posse,
Cujus sensus totum nosse,
Cujus esse summum bonum,
Cujus opus quidquid bonun.
Super cuncta, subter cuncta;
Extra cuncta, intra cuncta.
Intra cuncta, nec inclusus;
Extra cuncta, nec exclusus;
Super cuncta, nec elatus;
Subter cuncta, nec substratus.
Super totus, praesidendo;
Subter totus, sustinendo;
Extra totus, complectendo;
Intra totus es, implendo.
Intra nunquam coarctaris,
Extra nunquam dilataris,
Super nullo sustentaris,
Subter nullo fatigaris.
Mundum movens non moveris,
Locum tenens non teneris,
Tempus mutans non mutaris,
Vaga firmans non vagaris.
Vis externa, vel necesse
Non alternat tuum esse.
Heri nostrum, cras et pridem,
Semper tibi nune et idem.
Tuum, Deus, hodiernum,
Indivisum sempiternum:
In hoc totum praevidisti,
Totum simul perfecisti,
Ad exemplar summae mentis.
Formam praestans elementis.

A step in the right direction

According to the latest visa bulletin, some people (married children of US citizens or F3) have been in the queue since 1997. And some of the employment-based categories for some countries (India and China) are backed up ten years. What business can wait ten years for a new hire to be ready to start work?

House lawmakers advanced a proposal Friday that would salvage unused green cards from the past three decades and make them available to immigrants stuck in long backlogs.

Poem of the day

A White Rose
by John Boyle O’Reilly (1844-1890)

The red rose whispers of passion,
And the white rose breathes of love;
O, the red rose is a falcon,
And the white rose is a dove.

But I send you a cream-white rosebud
With a flush on its petal tips;
For the love that is purest and sweetest
Has a kiss of desire on the lips.

Thoughts on abortion

(I first started working on the post around the beginning of the year and kept updating it, the last time on June 5. Rather than revising yet again to take advantage of the Supreme Court’s opinion, which I don’t have time to do, I’m publishing as is.)

The overturning of Roe v. Wade. Conservatives can almost taste it. So close. Possibly as early as next spring when the Supreme Court issues its decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, the challenge to Mississippi’s strict anti-abortion law. But beware what you wish for. The issue is fraught with danger for the Republican party.

It seems to me that there is a solid, if not overwhelming, majority in favor of a moderate position on abortion. Most people are squicked by the thought of forcing a woman to carry an unwanted pregnancy to term, especially if it resulted from rape or incest. They believe in a woman’s right to choose what to do with her own body. But only up to a point. Most people are also squicked at the thought of a late-term abortion except under the most dire of circumsances (in fact, most late-term abortions occur under such circumstances). This moderate position, allowing abortion in the early stages of a pregnancy and permitting state regulation (including prohibition) in the late stages is essentially that of the Supreme Court in Roe and Planned Parenthood v. Casey. A recent poll showed about two thirds of the public in support of Roe and against the Texas statute.

Also, extremists on both sides have locked themselves into a slippery slope argument. The pro-choice people argue that any restrictions on abortion is a step towards banning all abortions while the anti-abortion people claim that allowing any abortions is a step toward ninth-month abortions in lieu of delivery. This makes it difficult for the pro-choice people to adopt the moderate position and impossible for the anti-abortion activists. It is one thing to claim that, whatever its potential, a zygote or fetus is not yet an actual human being. But it is quite another to claim that it is an actual human being and that killing it is murder. That locks you into the extreme position from which there is no escape.

Not that the anti-abortion crowd believes that. They don’t. The proof is that while they’re eager to prosecute those who provide abortions, they’re unwilling to advocate prosecuting the women seek abortions because they know that their support among the broader public would evaporate instantly. In fact, there is only one proven way to reduce the number of abortions: reduce the number of unwanted pregnancies. The most effective anti-abortion provision ever enacted in the United States is Obamacare’s contraceptive mandate. Yet, the conservative movement bitterly opposed it. And they also support abstinence-only sex education. Pragmatically, anyone who supports policies that increase the number of abortions (by increasing the number of unwanted pregnances) must be regarded as pro-abortion.

If the pro-life movement isn’t protecting the unborn, what is it doing? What are its leaders aiming for? The control of women’s bodies? That’s no doubt part of it. There are plenty among the base who long for a return to “traditional morality,” when women were “chaste.” But I think that’s only part of it. Anti-abortionism is very lucrative, both financially and electorily. It’s about money and political power.

What then is SCOTUS likely to do with the abortion cases before it? I suspect that the Texas provision allowing private suits as a way of avoiding judicial review is a bridge too far even for the conservatives. After all, what’s to prevent a liberal state from authorizing suits against gun owners as a way to circumvent the court’s Second Amendment jurisprudence? So I expect the Texas statute to be struck down. Who knows, the decision might even be unanimous.

The Mississippi case, with its direct challenge to Roe and Casey is a tougher call. Not that the conservatives on the court have any respect for precedent. They don’t. But they must recognize the political backlash that would hit the Republicans if Roe and its progeny were to be overturned. Money would pour into the coffers of an engergized Democratic party and it could be enough to hold the House and maybe even get a true majority in the Senate (which would allow them to abolish the filibuster over the objections of Manchin and Sisema). If they are truly the partisan political hacks they are often taken for, they will decide that stare decisis means something this one time. If, on the other hand, they are just ideological hacks, who have bought into the snake oil of originalism, Roe is doomed.

There is also the possibility of a mixed decision, affirming Roe for first trimester abortions upholding the Mississippi law. Chief Justice Robers seemed to suggest during oral arguments that he was open to this approach.The question is whether he can persuade one of his conservative colleagues to join him. In that case, you might see an opinion written by Roberts with the liberals (and one conservative) joining in part and the conservatives joining in another part. Plus, of course, there might be a half dozen or so opinions concurring in part and dissenting in part.

Poem of the day

Hymn to Proserpine
(After the Proclamation in Rome of the Christian Faith)
by Algernon Charles Swinburne (1837-1909)

                        Vicisti, Galiaee
I have lived long enough, having seen one thing, that love hath an end;
Goddess and maiden and queen, be near me now and befriend.
Thou art more than the day or the morrow, the seasons that laugh or that weep;
For these give joy and sorrow; but thou, Proserpina, sleep.
Sweet is the treading of wine, and sweet the feet of the dove;
But a goodlier gift is thine than foam of the grapes or love.
Yea, is not even Apollo, with hair and harpstring of gold,
A bitter God to follow, a beautiful God to behold?
I am sick of singing: the bays burn deep and chafe: I am fain
To rest a little from praise and grievous pleasure and pain.
For the Gods we know not of, who give us our daily breath,
We know they are cruel as love or life, and lovely as death.
O Gods dethroned and deceased, cast forth, wiped out in a day
From your wrath is the world released, redeemed from your chains, men say.
New Gods are crowned in the city; their flowers have broken your rods;
They are merciful, clothed with pity, the young compassionate Gods.
But for me their new device is barren, the days are bare;
Things long past over suffice, and men forgotten that were.
Time and the Gods are at strife; ye dwell in the midst thereof,
Draining a little life from the barren breasts of love.
I say to you, cease, take rest; yea, I say to you all, be at peace,
Till the bitter milk of her breast and the barren bosom shall cease.
Wilt thou yet take all, Galilean? but these thou shalt not take,
The laurel, the palms and the paean, the breasts of the nymphs in the brake;
Breasts more soft than a dove’s, that tremble with tenderer breath;
And all the wings of the Loves, and all the joy before death;
All the feet of the hours that sound as a single lyre,
Dropped and deep in the flowers, with strings that flicker like fire.
More than these wilt thou give, things fairer than all these things?
Nay, for a little we live, and life hath mutable wings.
A little while and we die; shall life not thrive as it may?
For no man under the sky lives twice, outliving his day.
And grief is a grievous thing, and a man hath enough of his tears:
Why should he labour, and bring fresh grief to blacken his years?
Thou hast conquered, O pale Galilean; the world has grown grey from thy breath;
We have drunken of things Lethean, and fed on the fullness of death.
Laurel is green for a season, and love is sweet for a day;
But love grows bitter with treason, and laurel outlives not May.
Sleep, shall we sleep after all? for the world is not sweet in the end;
For the old faiths loosen and fall, the new years ruin and rend.
Fate is a sea without shore, and the soul is a rock that abides;
But her ears are vexed with the roar and her face with the foam of the tides.
O lips that the live blood faints in, the leavings of racks and rods!
O ghastly glories of saints, dead limbs of gibbeted Gods!
Though all men abase them before you in spirit, and all knees bend,
I kneel not neither adore you, but standing, look to the end.
All delicate days and pleasant, all spirits and sorrows are cast
Far out with the foam of the present that sweeps to the surf of the past:
Where beyond the extreme sea-wall, and between the remote sea-gates,
Waste water washes, and tall ships founder, and deep death waits:
Where, mighty with deepening sides, clad about with the seas as with wings,
And impelled of invisible tides, and fulfilled of unspeakable things,
White-eyed and poisonous-finned, shark-toothed and serpentine-curled,
Rolls, under the whitening wind of the future, the wave of the world.
The depths stand naked in sunder behind it, the storms flee away;
In the hollow before it the thunder is taken and snared as a prey;
In its sides is the north-wind bound; and its salt is of all men’s tears;
With light of ruin, and sound of changes, and pulse of years:
With travail of day after day, and with trouble of hour upon hour;
And bitter as blood is the spray; and the crests are as fangs that devour:
And its vapour and storm of its steam as the sighing of spirits to be;
And its noise as the noise in a dream; and its depth as the roots of the sea:
And the height of its heads as the height of the utmost stars of the air:
And the ends of the earth at the might thereof tremble, and time is made bare.
Will ye bridle the deep sea with reins, will ye chasten the high sea with rods?
Will ye take her to chain her with chains, who is older than all ye Gods?
All ye as a wind shall go by, as a fire shall ye pass and be past;
Ye are Gods, and behold, ye shall die, and the waves be upon you at last.
In the darkness of time, in the deeps of the years, in the changes of things,
Ye shall sleep as a slain man sleeps, and the world shall forget you for kings.
Though the feet of thine high priests tread where thy lords and our forefathers trod,
Though these that were Gods are dead, and thou being dead art a God,
Though before thee the throned Cytherean be fallen, and hidden her head,
Yet thy kingdom shall pass, Galilean, thy dead shall go down to thee dead.
Of the maiden thy mother men sing as a goddess with grace clad around;
Thou art throned where another was king; where another was queen she is crowned.
Yea, once we had sight of another: but now she is queen, say these.
Not as thine, not as thine was our mother, a blossom of flowering seas,
Clothed round with the world’s desire as with raiment, and fair as the foam,
And fleeter than kindled fire, and a goddess, and mother of Rome.
For thine came pale and a maiden, and sister to sorrow; but ours,
Her deep hair heavily laden with odour and colour of flowers,
White rose of the rose-white water, a silver splendour, a flame,
Bent down unto us that besought her, and earth grew sweet with her name.
For thine came weeping, a slave among slaves, and rejected; but she
Came flushed from the full-flushed wave, and imperial, her foot on the sea.
And the wonderful waters knew her, the winds and the viewless ways,
And the roses grew rosier, and bluer the sea-blue stream of the bays.
Ye are fallen, our lords, by what token? we wist that ye should not fall.
Ye were all so fair that are broken; and one more fair than ye all.
But I turn to her still, having seen she shall surely abide in the end;
Goddess and maiden and queen, be near me now and befriend.
O daughter of earth, of my mother, her crown and blossom of birth,
I am also, I also, thy brother; I go as I came unto earth.
In the night where thine eyes are as moons are in heaven, the night where thou art,
Where the silence is more than all tunes, where sleep overflows from the heart,
Where the poppies are sweet as the rose in our world, and the red rose is white,
And the wind falls faint as it blows with the fume of the flowers of the night,
And the murmur of spirits that sleep in the shadow of Gods from afar
Grows dim in thine ears and deep as the deep dim soul of a star,
In the sweet low light of thy face, under heavens untrod by the sun,
Let my soul with their souls find place, and forget what is done and undone.
Thou art more than the Gods who number the days of our temporal breath;
For these give labour and slumber; but thou, Proserpina, death.
Therefore now at thy feet I abide for a season in silence. I know
I shall die as my fathers died, and sleep as they sleep; even so.
For the glass of the years is brittle wherein we gaze for a span;
A little soul for a little bears up this corpse which is man.
So long I endure, no longer; and laugh not again, neither weep.
For there is no God found stronger than death; and death is a sleep.

Game of the week

National master Mark Samuelian unfortunately passed the other day. He grew up in Massachusetts before moving to Florida and was a regular at Massachusetts tournaments during the 80s. This week’s game is a tribute to him.