Ode to General Jane, Patron of the Arts

O. Vic Miller

My muse and me, we sing of little Gen’rl Jane,
Who asked politely that a symphony be sane
Or fair. Or failing that, at least to keep their promises.
Instead of crawfishing retroactively from what they said.
That’s Willson with two L’s, whom we applaud.
Oh happy hour when our heroine withdrawed
her patronage (also her money)
from those who’d squander it to silly sanctimony.

For my own part, I speak with some authority–
Not as the vanguard of the finer arts–
But rather holding up the hinder parts
of her. And I’ve been born again,
and more than once. I’m therefore free of sin,
Thus my muse and I have rose back up
from infamy to judge the dead and quick–
We’re clearly qualified to say who plays our music–
And furthermore, my fortune, age, and waxing impotence
Endow me with a higher moral sense
Than thou all’s. I’m also blessed with a healthy dose of Christian poverty,
Which is to say, I ain’t a commie yet, though lacking fiscal sovereignty.
And I’ve been judged by meatheads for my rhymes,
Condemned to reprobation for sending Valentines
To academes and moralists whose finest hour
is chunking stones from crystal palaces and ivory tower.

Alas, my tux has got too tight for me to don it;
One foot’s too swole with gout to lace a black shoe on it;
My shotgun’s made me deaf as Ludwig Von,
So for symphony I stay home and turn the TV on
and watch the Fox up yonder lashing his baton,
and I’m uplifted some, so here is where I think I’m coming from:
The libido that oozes from the id
can boil up too much pressure if we seal the lid
And make no sweat to sublimate it–
The faintest spark is all it takes to detonate it.
Therefore I’d have our precious arts distilled from better sludge
Than ferments in the brainpans of the dolts who’d judge
an artist, not his work.

There’s no excuse
for all this reprobation and abuse.
Our patronage, such as it is, should be a friend
of artists too– enable and defend ‘em.
Cut them some slack, enable them to do
the work their higher powers call them to.
I say they love not art
Who fail to take the artists’ part,
In making sure he’s happy, free, and fed.
Then you may hear a music that you touched your finger to,
Instead of minor poets flipping one at you.

I’d like to know who thinks the Pope don’t have his toddy.
Or that a human soul don’t have a body.
Who thinks an artist also is a prude
Or says a painter’s model can’t be nude?
Who’d emphasize peccadilloes Toscanini had
Even if his energy be inspired from being bad?
Art comes from fallen saints and resurrected imps,
while prudish judgment rises rigid from a libido that’s limp.
Love’s kin to lust, as beauty’s kin to truth, or maids to whores,
Eros, agape, hypocrites to liars, who say the things that make untrue
the things they said before.

I say a piper’s got to have a lot of fun,
By God, enough to play and dance for everyone.
The sweetest honey’s made from sourest wood,
So if you’d bray that geniuses be good,
Make sure your doltish virtue’s ample
To act it out for those who might improve by your example.
I never saw a saint could write a sonnet
(Though clerics seek a masterpiece to paint some fig leaves on it)

Minstrels are beloved for their songs,
So “If music be the food of love, play on.”
That’s what the Bard, my muse, and me would like to say.
It ain’t nobody’s business who don’t play
a piccolo or xylophone or flute.
So if you got a horn, go toot it
And let the artless Philistines harass,
Who best deserve the jawbone of an ass
upside a head whose brains will never fetch
forth a ditty, doodle, limerick or sketch,
but quick to launch their asses off their haunches
to censure music men before their tunes.
Our arts community should wiggle free of such buffoonery.

I know the libido that oozes from the id
Will build up too much pressure if I seal the lid.
I gotta act temptations out or sublimate ’em.
Or the dimmest spark will ember up to detonate’em.
It’s clear no muse nor deity can budge
Until some saint or sinner stirs the sludge
To dredge up imps and angels from the bottom.
So flaunt your morals elsewhere if you got ‘em.
And let the music blast and patrons dance,
affected critics manage their own pants,
suppressing the appendages inside
their zippers and master their own demons ere they chide.

Humanities will prosper only when
Her acolytes are human, not exempt of sin.
Therefore I say an artist’s got to have some fun
So he can play and dance for everyone.
And everybody knows whose head is on the level,
Best music comes from dancing with the devil.
The sculptress has to fondle human clay
Before she renders marble into flesh
Of Virgin, pieta or odalisque.
Fra Lippo Lippi must’ve known of Aphrodite’s heat
To paint the blush that glows upon his shameless little Virgin’s cheek
In luminescence from the holy fire inside her womb.
Just think of all the bacchanals– the orgies on sarcophagi and tombs
depicted in Italian churches by Michelangelo an ‘em
With gods and satyrs, pans and cherubim
In pagan pageantries of writhing sin.
Hey Ho! hooray, well done, you rascal, and Amen.

Let censors bitch, and balder dashers quibble.
Let painters paint and flutist toot and poets scribble.
The maestro waves his magic wand
And pipers play. I say we ought to pay them for their songs,
And let impious censors sing along.

Who’d raise a moral stink, well, let ‘em do it
From a pew while choirs sing to Jesus, who
Cherished more the content of our hearts than what we mortals do.
And if the scripture’s true, we should derive from it
That Jesus spent more love on whores than hypocrites.

Who’d have the arts subdued by ceremony’s pomp
And circumstance? When happy lovers dance and stomp
In joy to tunes divine and yodel songs,
While all you prudish judges stay at home
Lest undigested piety turn flatulent and make you sick.
I say, rear back, kick up, cool out, enjoy the music!

While covens, corporations, Klans or boards
Hide cowardice collectively. But , oh my Lord,
Our Joy– that source of light immortal–
Transcends the desultory suspiration of the soul
into the meaty fingers weaving leaden straw into the golden
Tapestry of life and the resounding yes of new creation–
The hope beneath the no of spiritual stagnation.

He best loves God who sings life’s praise,
Through all his naughty nights, and brilliant days
Against the braying out of tune medieval laws
That emphasize the weakness of the flesh and human flaws.
The soul loves music flying wild and free
Unbound by tedious stocks of self-proclaiming piety.

Now my own muse ( I honestly confess this)
Is far more lewd than fair.
She rides in on a goat with rhinestones in her hair,
naked as a chicken, but she’d rather see me die
Than languish in a jaundiced public eye,
Brow beaten, viewed askance and harassed
By philistines better served by the jawbone of an ass
upside a head whose brains will never fetch
forth a ditty, doodle, limerick or sketch.
And if a painter’s better angels don’t take over,
Well, his model’s nude and prone beneath the cover.
The masterpiece can wait—I say, lets close the arras tight and turn her over.

Art’s made of soul stirred out of tempted meat.
Without temptation composers can’t create.
So if a rascal slips, we help him up, and bring him home to wash his feet
Of clay, then kill a fatted calf for him to eat,
So he, encouraged, brings to fruit the things self-righteous prudes can’t do.

So, General Jane, this doggerel’s for you,
I know you’d rather that I hadn’t wrote it.
We know self-rightous patrons of the town won’t quote it,
Still the pearl in all this oyster’s simply this:
You gotta have a little hubris
To know your faults and make a better music.
We gotta climb Fools’ Hill and fall back down a time or two
To pipe a universal yes to life and love –creation ever new.
Let’s leave it to the Pope to winnow right from wrong,
For life’s very short and Art is long.
So let the trumpets bray to beat the band with drum and xylophone,
And damn judgmental judges till the Judgment comes
to usher them below to darker shades,
where all the best and hottest music’s made.
And so–Hey ho!– My muse is telling me it’s time to go.
She bids farewell, so with her flourish I shall hit the road.
Goodbye, dear readers. Bless y’all. Adios!
And may you find our mundane musings apropos.


One Response

  1. Very well said, dear Vic, well said.

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