After seeing the Big Bear on his Dante kick, it occurred to me that very few of the new readers of the last 10 years would be familiar with my own little foray into terza rima, which was originally published in the appendix of The Return of the Great Depression.
An Infernal Economy
In a dark woodland I espied a bear
Vicious, hirsute, with a low, evil brow.
His stinking breath befouled the woodland air;
A roar, and animal spirits somehow
Vanished, like ghosts dissipating in mist,
Taking with them fully half from the Dow.
I knew not how I should hope to resist
This great beast, when before me then appeared
A genius, albeit one much dismissed,
For espousing truths both exact and feared
By men parsimonious in wisdom.
“No man, yet I act,” said him I revered,
“To spare thee much needless pain have I come!”
Then he raised a gleaming sword of pure gold
Before which the terrible beast did succumb
And turn away. Thus inspired I made bold
To inquire of insights he might convey.
“No, I shall not teach, instead shall I scold.
Come, thou shalt witness how ends the soiree!”
We found ourselves before a wide Abyss
From which came moans and cries of great dismay,
The regrets of men who’d been so remiss
As to believe markets will always rise.
“Speak, damned broker,” I said with a hiss,
To a wretched shade with dark, haunted eyes,
All naked but for his well-tattered suit.
“Every long-term chart showed we were wise.”
He protested, his contrition acute.
“Dollar-cost averaging, interest compound,
We thought they invested risk free, absolute!”
My Guide laughed, it was a cold, hollow sound
Of scorn for innocence so misplaced.
“That which goes up must finally come down,
And asset inflation will be retraced.
For growth cannot last indefinitely
When debt is rising and money debased.”
Behind us we left that sad misery,
Weeping and wailing under the cliff’s edge,
Descending down to the second degree.
There we encountered the god of the pledge,
Visa, the Master of living and dead.
Who sneered at my Guide: “From whence didst thou dredge
This old fossil, academic unread
By my countless servants, my serfs, my slaves?
He shall not enter, but for thee, instead
I’ll offer a card that actually saves
Thee five percent even as thou doth spend!”
Temptation rushed o’er me, enticing waves,
Cast by the fat goblin off’ring to lend
Me all that I wanted, and more beside!
“Stand fast, man, and do not think thou shalt bend!”
So spoke my Guardian, the consummate Guide,
Who, bare-handed, tore that false god in half!
“His day is done, comest thou alongside.
Seest the shades blown like wheat amidst chaff?”
Throughout the depths blew a most fearsome wind
Hurling poor souls around, all the riff-raff
In mighty numbers, those fools who had sinned,
Caught up in the feverish gluttony
Of consumption, and now, too late, chagrined.
They tumbled through clouds of fiat money,
Faith rendered faithless in one mad moment,
Then came a pair still in matrimony
Bound. They shrieked and fought for they did resent
The ties that held them linked close together
In bitter rage and mutual dissent.
The woman cried, clawing at her tether.
Impoverished, angry, seeking divorce,
And falling for the netherest nether
They plunged to the depths like a Russian bourse.
“New house, new clothes, new car financed with debt
They married for better, but found the worst,”
Said the Master without sounding upset.
“So now, they can’t even pay for a split!”
Such countless horrors no one could forget,
Happily did I that fell mirk acquit.
But new torments I saw, new terrors. I found
Myself standing in the midst of a pit,
Where an icy rain came tumbling down
Upon the unjust, and the unjust alone,
For there the just in their absence abound.
Suffering journalists wept to atone
For lying deceits practiced on the crowd.
While above towered three heads overgrown
From one horrid shape better disavowed,
Kudlow and Cramer and Bartiromo.
Three slavering heads drooled and barked aloud:
“Buy with both hands, this is doubtless the low!”
All the while snapping and snarfing up dirt.
Souls sold for nothing, not even a show,
No newspaperman had so much as a shirt
As hatless, shoeless, they froze in the rain,
Lamenting the truth they’d tried to pervert.
Shivering, I asked to depart this plane
A request to which my Guide acceded.
Thus we abandoned the media’s bane,
The encroaching ice quickly receded.
Before us there stood rows of mighty stones
And behind each a small man proceeded
To push it back and forth, with moans and groans,
Across the dismal field of outsized dreams.
“Economists,” I heard the amused tones
Of the Guide, “and duly damned for their schemes
That served as the key to open the door
For terrible tax-and-spending regimes.”
I spared but a brief sigh for Nobel’s whore
As we fell to a field of sepulchers
Uncovered and belching forth with a roar
Crimson flames that seared those entrepreneurs
Of finance, gamblers, investment bankers
Who played games with exotic wire transfers.
Those who had been for their banks anchors
Howled in unending agony, the fire
Fueled by derivatives, lethal cankers
Of financial cunning that now require
Unthinkable time to fully unwind.
Until then, each screams in his stone pyre.
No more could I bear, horror smote my mind,
I reeled before sights I could not forget.
And then my adviser did me remind
We’d yet to meet the political set.