[Part III of "Santa in the Underworld"]
“How Rumor’s spell enchants adult and youth!
On what they hear, they’d gladly place a bet
Since what’s said first ‘must surely be the truth’.
To act on whisp’rings, folks expend their sweat
But labor not to play the searching sleuth
[Who’ll keep no fishy facts inside his net
Instead of being like a mockingbird
Which sings whatever song it’s lately heard].
The gentlest saint who ever lives and dies
Can’t know what disrespect he might be paid.
The World might see, with its distorted eyes,
Mistakes where prudent choices had been made
[…And dream up faults or magnify the size
Of real but minor flaws] throughout its raid
On a person’s fortress built of kindly acts.
[A better jury might prefer the facts].
Perhaps that’s why a wise and ancient sage
Advised his pupils to expect no praise.
Results of deeds are difficult to gauge,
And fog of time will thicken more the haze
That clouds the acts in which we all engage
While stumbling through this snaky social maze.
To be less hurt when hearing no applause,
Expect no cheering for your noble cause.”
The moment William took a breathing pause
His sermon, not yet ended, was assailed
By Santa, who despised the final clause:
“You think expecting cheering’s where I failed?
I’m weary of your proverbs and your saws.
My name was furiously flayed and flailed.
I don’t lament approval that I lacked
But rather being sliced, impaled, and hacked.
Despite your words, you’re seeking approbation.
Perhaps you hoped you’d get me to concede
The wisdom of your moral recitation
And boost you with the self-esteem you need
And try so hard to earn with each oration.”
I didn’t know where their debate might lead
But thought I’d better keep it clam and short
By asking Santa ‘bout his fav’rite sport.