The Latest Decalogue Poem by Arthur Hugh Clough

The Latest Decalogue

Rating: 3.5

Thou shalt have one God only; who
Would be at the expense of two?
No graven images may be
Worshipp'd, except the currency:
Swear not at all; for, for thy curse
Thine enemy is none the worse:
At church on Sunday to attend
Will serve to keep the world thy friend:
Honour thy parents; that is, all
From whom advancement may befall:
Thou shalt not kill; but need'st not strive
Officiously to keep alive:
Do not adultery commit;
Advantage rarely comes of it:
Thou shalt not steal; an empty feat,
When it's so lucrative to cheat:
Bear not false witness; let the lie
Have time on its own wings to fly:
Thou shalt not covet; but tradition
Approves all forms of competition.

Thomas Vaughan Jones 06 March 2014

I'm amazed that no one has commented on this cant against hypocrisy. The Victorian age was full of it, rich people celebrating, poor people dying, the church pontificating while the congregation fornicated in secret. Tables and chairs were covered in drapes so that they wouldn't show their legs while the brothels in the big cities flourished. All of this and more, cunningly presented in humour and rhyme, as our Mr Clough would have been ostracised if he had been blunter. (Oscar Wilde spent some time in gaol for his indiscretions)

5 1 Reply
John Richter 16 April 2015

I agree Thomas... In fact was thinking the exact same. What surprises me is that there was no forced reparations upon Mr. Clough, being that he lived in a rather pious time in history and in an area where religion and faith played such a central role in both political and social themes. With the exception of the last century I believe the very worst of war and religious zealotry brewed and materialized right there in Britain... But if this poem were written today then I would suggest it is more tame then a crucifix in a glass of urine.... All in all I'd say this is very adept poetry for any era....

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Godfrey Morris 16 April 2015

Interesting look at the ten commandments.

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Terry Craddock 16 April 2015

Some of the best satire I have ever read, beautifully written.

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Kim Barney 16 April 2015

One of the funniest poems I've read lately, and totally agree with the comments of Thomas Vaughn Jones and John Richter below.

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Madathil Rajendran Nair 16 April 2015

Very humorous. The last two lines are the real punch-line.

1 0 Reply
Musa Gift Masombuka 16 April 2015

Wonderful. I like I like.

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