Joseph Addison places a quotation from Menander at the head of his essay on the “Uses and abuses of ridicule”. The quotation in translation reads: “Ill-timed laughter is a grave evil among mortals.”
Addison remarks that “Laughter is indeed a very good counter-poise to the spleen ´[…]” which brings me to present this excerpt from a satiric poem by Lionel Kearns who observes that rich kids get more toys than the poor and who calls for a switching of colours.
Santa Claus, having considered
your distribution policy in detail
we have at last discovered
your true political colour.
and as far as we’re concerned
you can take your red suit
and cram it, because we prefer green.
It’s Robin Hood’s colour
Kearns here reminds me of Gwen Hauser at her best. In both there percolates the not so hidden injuries of class. Laughter doesn’t always chase away spleen.
Then all the bells at once ring out in furious clang,
Bombarding heaven with howling, horrible to hear,
Like lost and wandering souls, that whine in shrill harangue
Their obstinate complaints to an unlistening ear.
Edna St. Vincent Millay, Flowers of Evil (1936)
Des cloches tout à coup sautent avec furie
Et lancent vers le ciel un affreux hurlement,
Ainsi que des esprits errants et sans patrie
Qui se mettent à geindre opiniâtrement.
Charles Baudelaire, Spleen
“Geindre” has connotations of recrimination … a hurling back of insults and accusations. More complaint than plaint.
Ill-timed for the listening ear: a flowering of evil.
And so for day 1298