Thursday, May 31, 2012

Summer lessons from the carol of King Wencelas

A few words brought together in text can sometimes be combined in verse in such a manner that they can create in the mind's eye a picture more powerful than any set of images projected onto an Imax screen.

Totally out of season on this summer morning on the eve of June, carefully consider if you will, these words from the opening verse as my memory recalls them of the Christmas carol "Good King Wencelas".

Good King Wencelas last looked out,
on the feast of Stephen,
When the snow lay round about, deep and crisp and even,
Brightly shone the moon that night,
though the frost was cru-el,
When a poor man came in sight,
gath'ring winter fu-(u)-el.

The picture of a hard frost upon deep snow on a post Christmas, mid-winter moonlit night is vividly described and thereby readily imagined. 

But why was the "poor man" gathering firewood, after dark and within sight of the castle window rather than in the likely to be more fruitful, but certainly less visible woodlands by daylight?

Why, furthermore, had the "poor man" left the gathering of firewood until the very regular peak winter period the certain effects of which it should have been earlier laid down to prevent, namely and ideally during the previous summer months?

 A clue to this feckless charecter's true motivations can be found in the hint as to the nature of the King, contained in the first line of the verse! King Wencelas was reputed to be "good" king, perhaps through being considered a soft touch. Were not the true motivations of the "poor" man, perhaps simply to be let in to sit by the castle fire, on which presumably a large animal would no doubt be being spit-roasted, and share in the general feasting that was certain to follow, given the earlier efforts and prior planning the the castle employees of the King.

The poor man was thus a forerunner of our modern day welfare dependents and increasingly obese couch potatoes. The King, through his supposed goodness, was thus in fact not doing his subjects any favours at all, by the masturbation of his conscience by the pandering to his own selfish altruistic tendencies.

In the coming summer months, as we celebrate the diamond jubilee of the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II, upon whom I shall no doubt feel prompted to write further over the coming weekend, let us dwell for a while upon how we have come to expect our rulers to be "good" to us, and how much better off we would become if we used the days that lie ahead, to prepare ourselves for the economic harshness of the consequences, soon to arrive, from our own Rulers' recent fecklessness and our encouragement of them in providing it.

Here is a YouTube version of the hymn for those who might enjoy it or cannot now recall the tune:



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