Litany in Passus 7

Truth sent them a letter under his secret seal

Telling them to buy freely, just as it pleased them,

And then resell what they buy and keep the profits,

And use them to fund hospitals and help the sick,

And promptly to repair hazardous roads

And to fix bridges that are broken down,

And find dowries to marry maidens or make them nuns,

Provide food for poor folk and prisoners too,

Send students to school or to train as apprentices,

And support religious orders and endow them better.

The priests call to their men telling them to sell their goods and not to buy (in essence they were meant to keep their money and not spend it on the land, not let it trickle down into the population) But Truth sends these priests a litany (which I have copied above). The litany calls for wide spending: Truth says buy this and that–aid the infrastructure of the land, fix things, feed people and so forth. Truth is democratic, like Whitman, it spins a list of goods, things to be done. The litany has always been a democratic (and somewhat socialist) rhetorical device. Think of Hillary Clinton naming off the people she will help. Truth is concerned with many people and does not confine itself to help the few as does the Pope. This idea is an interesting way to think about the poem as democratic or socialist. Truth (a hero in this poem) aids the lowly plowman and tells him be free and buy his cow. Truth does not favor the wealthy, it favors the everyman, the average joe, the plowman (whatever you want to call him).


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.