Nathalia Crane, aged twelve, makes fun of religion

In the previous post, I presented “The First Reformer,” the first poem in Saints and Reformers, the fourth part of Lava Lane, and Other Poems, her second volume published in 1925. Then I mentioned three others that explicitly mock religion: “Sunday Morning,” “The Making of a Saint” and “The Edict.” I reproduce them here.

First, God is presented as a senile person, playing silly and meaningless games.

SUNDAY MORNING

God, on a Sunday morning,
∴ Sits in his old armchair
Comforting May Madonna—
∴ Slip-heel who fell the stair.

God, on a Sunday morning,
∴ Rabble around his knee,
Counting the Yiddish babies,
∴ Jouncing the Ebony,

Driving the Nordic cross-eyed
∴ Over the bark-skinned bow,
Telling a saffron silly
∴ Something she yearned to know.

Teaching the Chinese cherubs
∴ Little slow-motion jigs,
Cannibal babes to nibble
∴ Nothing but sugared figs,

Waving the popcorn scepter,
∴ Tossing the tamarind,
Hiding his bags of thunder
∴ Under the rain and wind.

God, on a Sunday morning,
∴ Reaching the dotage stage,
Tearing up all the blacklists—
∴ Making the adults rage.

Next, three little animals in a garret feel compelled to have a dead woman accepted in Heaven as a saint; their public relation efforts are rewarded by an enhanced status of their home.

THE MAKING OF A SAINT

She died in a disarrayed garret
∴ In a vacuous sort of a house.
The lords of the rafters were sorry—
∴ The spider, the moth, and the mouse.

They felt that a burden was on them.
∴ Surmising the needs of a soul,
In conclave they swore to her virtues
∴ And crisscrossed a character scroll.

The spider concocted a halo,
∴ It floated a flat balloon;
The moth made the sign of the pinions
∴ That opened the first cocoon;

The mouse did a modesty duty,
∴ He loosened the strings of her shoes,
For a saint must go barefoot to Zion
∴ Or how could the angels enthuse?

They bowed to the yoke of the legend,
∴ The spider, the moth and the mouse—
They were sending a real one to Heaven
∴ And out of their very own house.

Now garbing a saint for a survey
∴ Entitles the garrets and slums
To the right of the line with the colors,
∴ To act as an escort with drums,

To call upon Minn for the mantles
∴ Prescribed for a walled-in town,
To ask for an issue of ermine
∴ To broider a new renown.

So the moth and the mouse and the spider,
∴ Discarding their old restraint,
Went forth in the raiment awarded,
∴ And Heaven accepted their saint.

Finally, saints represent a profitable business for publishers, so some good advice is given on how to better present their story in order to enhance sales.

THE EDICT

Write, said the editor unto the saint,
Something all dripping with paradise paint,
Something to jazzle and dazzle and please,
Something of kneeling and beautiful knees.

You write the story and I’ll write the head,
Margin to margin the copy we’ll spread—
Never a blue pencil fussing a sheet—
We’ll make a story to sling at the street.

Load it with red-headed peppers and thyme,
Seek not to cincture an innocent rhyme.
Touch all your Visions With life’s accolade,
Only in telling, oh, be not afraid.

Sing of a Jezabel flung from a tower,
Sing of a Lesbia looting a flower,
Sing of a Sappho and detail each thrall,
Finally Phryne who walked on them all.

Make it as coarse as a cobblestone fight,
Make it as sweet as an old man’s delight,
Put in the pallor and strawberry stain
So they will read it—and read it again.

Source: Nathalia Clara Ruth Crane, Lava Lane, and Other Poems. Thomas Seltzer, New York (1925).

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19 thoughts on “Nathalia Crane, aged twelve, makes fun of religion

  1. Actually, many critics regard Crane’s work to be a hoax. I don’t believe a child could be so disillusioned.
    Edwin Markham wrote: “It seems impossible to me that a girl so immature could have written these poems. They are beyond the powers of a girl of twelve. The sophisticated viewpoint of sex, …knowledge of history and archeology found in these pages place them beyond the reach of any juvenile mind.”
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nathalia_Crane

    Liked by 1 person

    • I have already mentioned this gratuitous accusation of hoax, including this quote of Markham, in the previous post “Nathalia Crane at twelve” (https://agapeta.wordpress.com/2017/10/21/nathalia-crane-at-twelve/), and hinted at it previously in “Nathalia Crane, love and poetry at nine” (https://agapeta.wordpress.com/2017/08/27/nathalia-crane-love-and-poetry-at-nine/). Nathalia herself told interviewers that she had read the encyclopedia just for fun.
      I have also discussed at length in several articles (in French) similar accusations against Minou Drouet, in particular the arrogant pontifying by André Breton, and given sufficient facts and testimonies proving that she was the author of her poems and letters and that her mother could not have written them. If you don’t read French, see my article in English on Pigtails in Paint, giving the main points.
      Finally, see my article “Kids have gifts — when one trusts them” (https://agapeta.wordpress.com/2016/11/20/kids-have-gifts-when-one-trusts-them/) on how kids show themselves able to do fabulous things when adults trust them and teach them things instead of forbidding them everything.
      Saying “kids can’t do …” or “kids can’t be …” or “kids can’t comprehend …” is not an empirical observation, it is a political program for infantilising young people.

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  2. “But on every Sunday why all go to church,
    Even the squirrels, birds, butterflies, butterflies and Lillies
    Just to thank the lord for giving one more day”,
    she is still too young to understand this world and the cultures.

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    • Too young to understand? That is what too many adults say to children, even when the latter are bright and do understand. Nathalia Crane was a very intelligent girl, and she could understand what she wrote about.
      You remind me of people who said that Minou Drouet or Nathalia Crane could not have written her poems, because such a sophistication was “above her age”.

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      • You are wrong. It is not a joke to understand about faith, custom, culture, tradition, etc. There are many definitions and quotes on Life, but none of them defines Life. Life itself is a mystery.

        All of the sudden children think they know a lot and try to display their negative intellectuality which may be of ignorance, pure hypocrisy, putting up a show and smartness or of a similar kind.

        That is appreciated but when it is put up in a dignified way.

        Any of the Divine, religious, faith, culture or tradition should go on a neat disciplined and amicable way.

        Regards

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        • When a child recites prayers or participates in a religious worship as she was instructed by her parents and by priests, or when she recites patriotic formulas as she was instructed by teachers and the State, nobody complains that she is too young to understand, or that she is not in a position to give informed consent. It is only when she does things that go against official authority that one raises such objections.

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          • Good Afternoon Christian,

            Your comparison or reference whatever it may be is very immature, abrupt, inappropriate and silly.
            A Child praying is not doing any harm to others, not disturbing the mind of others, not spoiling any good culture nor even destroying a peaceful atmosphere. But if a child’s action disturbs the minds, culture and atmosphere, definitely that action is questionable whoever it may be.

            HALF KNOWLEDGE IS DANGEROUS.
            Blessings to you.
            Uma

            Liked by 1 person

            • It looks like you want to have the last word. First you say that Nathalia Crane is “too young to understand” religion when she mocks it. Then I say “when a child recites prayers or participates in a religious worship as she was instructed by her parents and by priests, […] nobody complains that she is too young to understand.” You don’t answer that but you get angry at me and say that “a child praying is not doing any harm to others, not disturbing the mind of others.” But maybe she will one day feel disturbed and harmed because she was indoctrinated at such a young age with ideas that she now finds unhealthy, and she might then think that adults abused their authority and her trust by indoctrinating her at such a young age. This is exactly what happened to me when I grew into adulthood.
              You should not think that religion has more rights than criticism of religion.
              Now about the video: this man is making a public uproar with his amplifier, which makes him speak louder than the girl yelling, you can hear an echo of his voice, and there is a voice in the public asking for “quiet!”; furthermore his discourse is not about love and blessings, but completely sectarian and insulting to the public, essentially telling people that they are sinners and that they will go to hell if they don’t convert to his creed. If someone insults me loudly and in a sectarian way in public, I am entitled to tell him to shut up.
              This is my blog, so I say that discussion is closed, you will not convince me and I will not convince you. Please do not make any further comment in this thread.

              Like

              • Good Morning Christian,
                I am not angry with you and in fact, I have a lot of respect and honour for you.
                If you look into my earlier comments you will find this.
                And I took that liberty of expressing opinions freely between us with a friendly gesture.
                I thought I got that freedom of expression with you.
                Well apologies for continuing this, in spite of your full-stop for any further discussions,
                I just posted this comment to express my apologies to you for hurting your feelings.
                Anyway, I discontinue any further discussions on this topic.
                Regards and blessings.
                Uma

                Liked by 1 person

    • At twelve you don’t care about the world and the blessings of diversity and descending to the mean, all you know is in front of your nose. Twain was 40 when he wrote Tom Sawyer, took him that long to figure out childhood and he’s smarter than most.

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    • Yes, but I admire her boldness, she is not afraid to shout at an adult because she thinks he is stupid and bothersome; the contrary of the traditional image of the meek and powerless little girl.

      Liked by 1 person

        • She WILL have that fire! The fires of Hell and I hope she gets there soon! The man had a right to preach. She didn’t have the right to harass him. Total lack of proper parenting for the upcoming little BITCH! Yeah. I said it. I have NO tolerance for those who have no tolerance for others.

          Liked by 1 person

          • This man is using a microphone and amplifier when preaching in the street, so making noise in public (“breach of the peace”); moreover, what he says is blaming people for their sins. So really he is bothersome.

            Liked by 1 person

            • Stick a megaphone in my face and tell me I’m wrong, not a top-shelf plan for converting people to your way of thinking. But “shut up!” isn’t much better. Shoulda just kicked him in the jimmy.
              He had his chance, he could have diffused the situation by talking to her, not easy with a kid but still – he’s supposed to be the adult in the room. Get her a chair and a bottle of water and let’s talk. Nobody wins by out-screaming your opponent.

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            • I took it that he had a permit to be there to make “noise”. She, on the other hand, showed disrespect for an adult…with her parent’s permission. The girl is more bothersome than he is as she is acting in a very bratty manner.

              I don’t much care for “street corner” sermonizing whether loud or not. I have always kept on walking without any need to get in their face and yell my opinions or tell them what to do. I have always done this.

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              • If you listen to the video, with his amplifier the preacher speaks louder than the girl shouting at full strength. At one moment one can hear a small echo of his voice. So he is creating a public uproar. Then at one time one can hear an adult voice requesting “quiet!”, so clearly he disturbs the public with his nightly din. Moreover, his discourse is not simply “preaching”, but completely sectarian and insulting: “turn away from sin,” “don’t think that your own good work will give you heaven,” “only Jesus can give you heaven”, etc. In France, such a public disturbance would not be allowed, people would call the police for breach of the peace and also complain of incitement to religious strife; if the mayor authorised that, some citizens would bring him to court. In France you accept religious groups in the street singing with their guitars, but without loud amplifier and not during the night, or giving leaflets to passers-by, but not imposing them against their will; and usually their songs speak of love, their leaflets propose to join a discussion or conference, but without calling people sinners who will go to hell if they don’t convert. Whenever anyone allows himself to do such a provocative and sectarian noisy public disturbance, every person is entitled to tell him to shut his mouth and to go back to his church to take care of his own sins. So the little girl is quite justified in putting him back to his place.
                The discussion is closed. Please don’t make any more comment on this thread.

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