Nathalia Crane, aged twelve, makes fun of religion

Flor Garduño – Comunión
Flor Garduño – Comunión, Mexico (2000)

In a previous post, I presented “The First Reformer,” the first poem in Saints and Reformers, the fourth part of Lava Lane, and Other Poems, her second volume published in 1925. Then I mentioned three others that explicitly mock religion: “Sunday Morning,” “The Making of a Saint” and “The Edict.” I reproduce them here.

First, God is presented as a senile person, playing silly and meaningless games.

by Nathalia Crane

God, on a Sunday morning,
Sits in his old armchair
Comforting May Madonna—
Slip-heel who fell the stair.

God, on a Sunday morning,
Rabble around his knee,
Counting the Yiddish babies,
Jouncing the Ebony,

Driving the Nordic cross-eyed
Over the bark-skinned bow,
Telling a saffron silly
Something she yearned to know.

Teaching the Chinese cherubs
Little slow-motion jigs,
Cannibal babes to nibble
Nothing but sugared figs,

Waving the popcorn scepter,
Tossing the tamarind,
Hiding his bags of thunder
Under the rain and wind.

God, on a Sunday morning,
Reaching the dotage stage,
Tearing up all the blacklists—
Making the adults rage.

Next, three little animals in a garret feel compelled to have a dead woman accepted in Heaven as a saint; their public relation efforts are rewarded by an enhanced status of their home.

by Nathalia Crane

She died in a disarrayed garret
In a vacuous sort of a house.
The lords of the rafters were sorry—
The spider, the moth, and the mouse.

They felt that a burden was on them.
Surmising the needs of a soul,
In conclave they swore to her virtues
And crisscrossed a character scroll.

The spider concocted a halo,
It floated a flat balloon;
The moth made the sign of the pinions
That opened the first cocoon;

The mouse did a modesty duty,
He loosened the strings of her shoes,
For a saint must go barefoot to Zion
Or how could the angels enthuse?

They bowed to the yoke of the legend,
The spider, the moth and the mouse—
They were sending a real one to Heaven
And out of their very own house.

Now garbing a saint for a survey
Entitles the garrets and slums
To the right of the line with the colors,
To act as an escort with drums,

To call upon Minn for the mantles
Prescribed for a walled-in town,
To ask for an issue of ermine
To broider a new renown.

So the moth and the mouse and the spider,
Discarding their old restraint,
Went forth in the raiment awarded,
And Heaven accepted their saint.

Finally, saints represent a profitable business for publishers, so some good advice is given on how to better present their story in order to enhance sales.

by Nathalia Crane

Write, said the editor unto the saint,
Something all dripping with paradise paint,
Something to jazzle and dazzle and please,
Something of kneeling and beautiful knees.

You write the story and I’ll write the head,
Margin to margin the copy we’ll spread—
Never a blue pencil fussing a sheet—
We’ll make a story to sling at the street.

Load it with red-headed peppers and thyme,
Seek not to cincture an innocent rhyme.
Touch all your Visions With life’s accolade,
Only in telling, oh, be not afraid.

Sing of a Jezabel flung from a tower,
Sing of a Lesbia looting a flower,
Sing of a Sappho and detail each thrall,
Finally Phryne who walked on them all.

Make it as coarse as a cobblestone fight,
Make it as sweet as an old man’s delight,
Put in the pallor and strawberry stain
So they will read it—and read it again.

Source: Nathalia Clara Ruth Crane, Lava Lane, and Other Poems. Thomas Seltzer, New York (1925).

Previously published on Agapeta, 2017/11/05.

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