Hal Duncan Takes Flyte

You may remember me mentioning in my review of Kurt Wittig’s The Scottish Tradition in Literature the practice in mediæval Scots poetry of flyting, defined in the Dictionary of the Scots Language as “the action of quarrelling, scolding, or employing abusive language.”

I have come across a magnificent modern example of the form written in up to date Scots by Hal Duncan in response to a poem inspired by the US Presidential inauguration last month by one Joseph Charles MacKenzie (of The Society of Classical Poets, no less) and subsequently published in the Scotsman.

That poem itself requires some comment.

Line 4: “To snatch from a tyrant his ill-gotten power.”
Snatch? It was an election conducted under rules.
A tyrant? The man who was elected under those self-same rules and who conformed to the requirement to relinquish his post after his allotted time? And who walked away with grace? Hardly the actions of a tyrant.

Line 7: “When freedom is threatened by slavery’s chains”
Slavery? As far as I’m aware only black people in the US have ever been subjected to slavery. But of course, the “tyrant” is a black man so he “must” have introduced slavery in reverse. Is that the logic?

Line 8: “And voices are silenced as misery reigns”
Silenced? I don’t recall the Tea Party being less than vocal in their opposition, nor lacking in publicity for it.

Line 9: “We’ll come out for a leader whose courage is true”
Courage? The courage to insult and degrade? I note here his several bankruptcies leaving others to suffer the financial loss he thereby avoided.

Line 10: “Whose virtues are solid and long overdue”
Virtues? Virtues? Blustering, bullying, braggartry? (And that’s only words beginning with b.)

Line 15: “As self-righteous rogues took the opulent office”
This would be that “tyrant” again I suppose.

Line 20: “Ne’er gaining from that which his hands did not make”
His hands never made a single thing in his life.

Line 22: “He’s enriched many cities by factors of ten”
Tell that to Atlantic City.

Lines 25, 26, 27, 28 “True friend of the migrant from both far and near/He welcomes the worthy, but guards our frontier/Lest a murderous horde, for whom hell is the norm/Should threaten our lives and our nation deform”
His actions have done the exact opposite of what these lines claim. He has only reinforced the notion that the US (and hence its allies) are against Islam, thereby only fanning the flames he claims he is trying to douse. Horde is a wildly hyperbolic exaggeration and the lives of US citizens are many times more threatened from those disturbed people who walk into schools armed with automatic weapons than by terrorists from abroad.

I could go on but I’m getting fed up with the quantity of sheer guff in this so-called poem from a so-called poet. Lickspittle is far too mild a term for the sycophancy on display here.

So take a look at Hal Duncan’s flyting riposte; far more eloquent than mine.

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