Let Us Meditate the Virtue

by Donald Hall

Let us meditate the virtue of slogans.
Let us declare onomastic* solutions
to difficulties largely unnameable,
and by the mottoes

of euphemism contract verbal righteousness.
Let's indite bulletins to tell everyone
the Jargon of Things, to name Lifestyles, to learn
the Tongue of High Coy:

Do you desire to purchase a beverage?
We thank you for not smoking. Have a nice day.
May we share these suggestions with you? Let us
praise exultation,

never calling a route salesman a milkman,
nor an officer of the law a cop, nor
a senior citizen old, nor a starving
freezing bagwoman

poor. When we can't alter ills that upset us,
we will change their names to prevent compassion
from disturbing our ungulate composure:
words to deny worlds.

Vocabulary voids original sin;
cavalry of the lie reaches Calvary
just in time--to bugle Christ down from the cross.
But: no nails, no Christ.

Jean Jouvenet "Descent From The Cross"

*Onomastics or onomatology is the study of proper names of all kinds and the origins of names. The words are from the Greek: "ὀνομαστικός" (onomastikos), "of or belonging to naming" and "ὀνοματολογία" (onomatologia), from "ὄνομα" (ónoma) "name". Toponymy or toponomastics, the study of place names, is one of the principal branches of onomastics.

“words to deny worlds.”


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