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Contradict the King? A poet's perspective (long)

Poster: hfeld@ids2.idsonline.com (Harold Feld)

Unto all who read these words, greetings from Yaakov.

Within the last few days, words have passed in this place that have struck
dread to my heart.  For I have heard it said by some that it is not the
place of the subjects of the fair and free kingdom of Atlantia to correct
their sovereign king or prince.  Praise to God the Most High, the King of
Kings, the Beneficient and Merciful, that these words have not come from
their majesty or highness themselves!  Nay, they come from those who,
meaning good no doubt, would show them honor and respect.

Yet this idea, that we should not openly correct one in authority who errs
in fact, can have aught save the most dreadful consequences.  First, it
must follow, if we dare not disagree with such high personages on matters
of fact, that we dare not argue with them publically on mere opinion!
Therefore, as the first evil that should follow, we will find we dare not
speak our minds in full and freely, as befits a free people under the rule
of a just and sovereign king.  Thus shall the idea set forward in the last
few days, that one should not publically correct the king on errors of
fact, lead to the first great evil.

The second great evil is to deprive our rulers of the good opinion and
knowledge of their subjects.  For, as the word of this new idea spreads,
that one should not contradict the crown, who should dare to do so in
private?  Thus shall we deprive our rulers of counsellors and set before
them flatterers and sycophants.  Thus shall the second evil befall the

But set above all these is the third evil which this idea, that we may not
publically contradict the crown on matters of fact, causes.  For it shall
cause a great corruption in both the spirit of the king and the spirit of
his subjects.  At this time, it is to the praise of our sovereigns that
they sit openly among us in this place.  They do not stand on courtesy, nor
demand special privilege.  Nay!  they have sought us out, common people in
a common tavern, seeking our good company.  Such is their wisdom, such is
their stature and greatness, that they have not forsaken the company and
advice of those they are set over. (Indeed, if nothing else, common
courtesy should tell me that I should honor them with my honest speach and
opinions!  For there is no honor in a lie of silence and no courtesy in
permitting the crown to believe that which is not so.  To correct them is
no imputation of dishonesty or flaw- as some of their majesties' most
zealous defenders seem to believe- but rather frees them from the shakles
of ignorance.  Can their be greater honor or courtesy?)

Yet to return to the matter of the third evil which this idea spreads.
For, in time, when it is known that none should dare to correct the crown,
the crown may come to believe that it is true.  The crown may come- may God
avert us from such a calamity- to believe itself as perfect and
all-knowledgable as the courtiers, sycophants, and jealous guardians of the
crown's honor would have them believe.  This danger, which so far our own
sovereigns have escaped, would as a foul canker corrupt their souls.  They
would forget that The Almighty Alone, the King of Kings, is all
knowledgable and omnipotent.  Nay, our crowns should fall into the danger
of Canute, whose courtiers convinced him he could turn back the tide with
his word.  So should this idea, that none should puyblically correct the
crown, do them great harm.

And, when they have fallen into the trap, who should be left to tell them
so?  Who should succor them?  For all the honest advisors and wise men,
whom it would have pleasured the king to keep about him in the days of his
wisdom, would have been drowned out and driven off by the fawning
sycophants,flatterers, and over eager gaurdians of "courtesy" who propogate
this idea.

And what then of the kingdom?  For this idea, would shackle the spirits of
the the subjects of such a king?  If a man or woman may not tell the crown
honestly when the crown is mistaken, how shall they live free?  Nay, such a
people will come to watch every word, to dread lest they should accidently
contradict an implication of a sentence of the crown.

So, in time, the people will come to resent a monarch who requires such a
thing.  How should they not?  How should they not resent a monarch who
would stiffle their words- as these jealous defenders and zealots of the
king's honor would have us believe.  Thus, even though the crowns did not
wish such a thing, resentment should grow.  Yet how would the crown even
know of the problem, when the zealous guardians of the king's name will not
permit a subject to bring such dreadful news to the king?

Thus do we see th third and greatest evil.  That this idea corrupts the
sould of both crown and commoner.  And all done in the name of honor,
respect, and courtesy.  Yet I ask: Is this honor? Is this respect? Is this

I think not.  I praise God, the Almighty, the true and just ruler of the
world, that he has given our crowns wisdom to see the folly of their
over-zealous defenders.  Thus is Atlantia blessed with rulers who do not
fear to be told by their subjects when they have erred; rulers who know
that wisdom lies even in words painful to hear and difficult to endure.
And, being wise and just monarchs, desiring aught but good for their
subjects and themselves, they shrug off the advice of their sychophants and
well-meaning zealots.  For they continue to come among us and sit as equals
at this table.

I conclude with a poetic word of warning, and a promise.  Have no fear, oh
rulers of Atlantia.  I at least, shall ever speak my mind to you.  As poet
I shall sing your praises, and as poet I shall tell you when you err.

A Prayer for the Kingdom and the King by Mar Yaakov HaMizrachi
(A sestina)

Have pity on the kingdom and the king
When subjects fear to truely speak their heart.
When zealous, jealous, guards of his honor
Call contrary counsel base treason.
For such evils does this foul folly stir
That those afflicted have no hope save prayer.

Oh Atlantia, please heed this stumbling prayer.
Protect yourselves, your kingdom, and your king!
Think not you are too weak and dare not stir
To contradict the crown when in your heart
You know he errs. Rather, think it treason,
And breach of your fealty oath and honor

To forbear.  Render your crown the honor
Of your trust.  He shall give ear to your prayer
For discourse.  Being wise, he can tell treason
>From honest disagreement. A king
With such subjects prospers; they have at heart
His well being and within their breasts stir

Duty and respect. But, alas, when stir
Accross the land self-annointed guards of "honor"
Who for "courtesy" poison the heart
Of the country.  Who hear the honest prayer
Given lovingly to correct the king
And slander it as basest treason.

The "guards", not the people, do the treason.
For in their eager jealousy they stir
True hatred and resentment 'gainst the king.
For the people will think he has no honor;
That the king will hear no contrary prayer
To his counsel.  That he is proud, his heart

Stone, when in truth the king would know the heart
And thought of his subjects.  Thus the treason
Of the "guards" is double.  They hide the prayer
And advice of his counselors, and stir
The people to wrath. In the name of honor
They dishonor by this "service" to the king.

So heed this prayer! When such servants stir
Their deadly treason 'cross the land, honor
Your oath!  Speak your heart! And thus save your king.

Written by my hand, this 17th Day of Tammuz (may the Lord have mercy on us
in our exile and forgive us our sins!), being called in the Kingdom of
Atlantia the 4th of July, A.S. XXXI

Mar Yaakov HaMizrachi

Harold Feld
Yaakov HaMizrachi

"Do not ask 'Why are these days not as good as the days of old?' This
question is not prompted by wisdom." -Eccl.

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