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  • Writer's pictureThe Political Forum

Kipling -- "The Fabulists"

For those who are not familiar with how the two of use came to be attempting to earn a living as independent writers, we would note that we were happily employed by Prudential Securities before being abruptly fired in November 2000. Barron’s Magazine explained our departure as follows in an article dated July 2001.

Political correctness has come to Wall Street. Last October, Prudential Securities, the brokerage arm of Prudential Financial, fired its highly popular conservative political analyst, Mark Melcher [they didn’t mention Steve, but he was defenestrated also], because his opinions didn't match up with those of the company brass. . .

For the past eight years, Institutional Investor has ranked him the securities industry's top Washington analyst. Many of Prudential's 6,000 retail brokers lionized him, and institutional clients paid handsomely to recruit him to speak at client conferences. . . .

A recurrent Melcher theme is that moral deficits have severe economic consequences in that they facilitate the spread of corruption. As such, he argued that Wall Street and its investors have a responsibility to reverse what he considers to be the leftward drift from moral norms and capitalism, not just in Washington, but in universities, the mass media and churches.. .

Such views, however, apparently displeased John Strangfeld, who took over as head of Prudential Securities in October, the same month Melcher was forced to step down. . . Indeed, even as Melcher was blasting Clinton, [Prudential Chairman Arthur] Ryan was hobnobbing with the President aboard Air Force One. . . .

So this week, in our poetry section, we offer “The Fabulists,” a long-time favorite poem of ours from the great Tory poet, novelist, short-story writer, and Nobelist, (Joseph) Rudyard Kipling. This poem was written shortly before World War I, a time when Kipling’s literary work, as well as his energetic patriotism and conservative values, were falling from public favor. But, like truth itself, Kipling, his work and his philosophy have endured long after his critics have been forgotten. We have no expectations that our work with endure. But we do strive to live up to the standards of speaking truth to power, as illustrated by this poem. (And just as an FYI: The term "fabulist" is synonymous with “liar.”)

WHEN all the world would keep a matter hid, Since Truth is seldom friend to any crowd, Men write in fable, as old Æsop did, Jesting at that which none will name aloud. And this they needs must do, or it will fall Unless they please they are not heard at all
When desperate Folly daily laboureth To work confusion upon all we have, When diligent Sloth demandeth Freedom’s death, And banded Fear commandeth Honour’s grave— Even in that certain hour before the fall Unless men please they are not heard at all.

Needs must all please, yet some not all for need, Needs must all toil, yet some not all for gain, But that men taking pleasure may take heed, Whom present toil shall snatch from later pain. Thus some have toiled but their reward was small Since, though they pleased, they were not heard at all.

This was the lock that lay upon our lips, This was the yoke that we have undergone, Denying us all pleasant fellowships As in our time and generation. Our pleasures unpursued age past recall. And for our pains—we are not heard at all.

What man hears aught except the groaning guns? What man heeds aught save what each instant brings? When each man’s life all imaged life outruns, What man shall pleasure in imaginings? So it hath fallen, as it was bound to fall, We are not, nor we were not, heard at all.
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