Excerpt from The Doniad: An American Epic

By an Anonymous Bard

Edited by Privata1

Editor’s prefatory note:

In a university library that has not yet cancelled my privileges, I was recently working in a small windowless room that the staff had allocated to me, far from the eyes of students who might be triggered by my presence. The room also stored donated books and manuscripts that awaited the staff’s decision to be shelved and catalogued or to be burned. In one of the dusty boxes of donations, I found The Doniad: An American Epic, an odd kind of latter-day Aeneid by a self-described “Anonymous Bard.” Because of its content (to say nothing of its literary quality), it seemed destined for the fire, and I exercised the scholar’s privilege to preserve it in samizdat by photographing it on my mobile phone.

The manuscript, although recent, is in bad physical shape, bearing more than a whiff of the refuse bin. The author’s handwriting is even shakier than his prosody. Therefore, my progress in editing a publishable copy has been slow, and all that I can now offer to the reader is the manuscript’s “Proem.” Despite the Bard’s best intentions, that may be more than enough.

Proem

Swamps and the Don I sing, who, fleeing west

From azure-collared Queens across the bridge

Where great Manhattan lay before him, built

His debt-drenched realm of gilt and travertine

In loud resorts and towers proud, which all

His licensed name proclaimed in letters huge;

How thence to Hollywood westward more he flew,

There to direct, like old Euripides,

The fates of who, apprenticed to the gods,

Would rise in rank, and who, in doom to fall,

Would hear our hero’s verdict stern: “You’re fired”;

And how this man of Queens his many queens,

Whereof a goodly portion eastern lands

Had they themselves escaped, did wed: Sing, Muse,

How Donald down the engined stairs descended,

Declaring war against the teeming field

Of other Elephantines; how he won,

Then faced an Asinine, a fiercer foe,

Their would-be queen eternal, Klyntemnestra,

Who lost again the battle to an upstart

And blamed for this, her failure’s repetition,

Collusion ‘twixt the Donald and the Tsar,

Herself not ever faulting, nor her consort,

Bill, the Ozarks’ Prince and once the king;

And say how the Prince of Orange, newly king,

Cravatted gules, with entourage in step,

Their banners gules and argent “MAGA” waving,

Potomac’s shore achieved, a hero’s cheer

Expecting from the natives of the capital,

That fetid fortress built atop a swamp;

But how instead his regnant hands, eager

To build his wall and drain that swamp, were tied

By those who feared the loss of long-held might

(Or those he’d merely cholered with his words)—

By senators and councilors and clerks;

By magistrates and ministers and minions;

By governors of all the coastal lands

(Those provinces that frame the towns and counties

Of Middle Land, whose people they deplore);

By mayors of the cities of decline;

By heralders and gossipers for gold;

By all who sought the laurel for resistance,

While risking naught and puffing up their fame

With praise both self-conferred and loudly echoed

By troubadours and other entertainers—

The actors worst of all, who say their parts

To crowds’ applause, and fool their strutting selves

That wisdom lies in aught such parrots say

Unscripted, as their parrot brains command;

How nearly all the courtiers and retainers,

Defending first their power and prestige,

And last, if at all, their country or its king,

Ingathered in encampments by their swamp

And schemed and whispered dossiers and rumors,

Proceedings, leaks, alarms, and fabrications,

And tales of Moscow maidens’ micturitions,

To rid themselves of Donald and regain

The rightful rule of realm they’d always held

No matter who the king, no matter why.

Then sing more sadly, Muse, of how the king

Himself enswamped to bring his early doom:

He drank no wine, but dizzy still became

From launching bursts of words that coursed the world

On lightning wings, called tweets, and dizzier still

From second-rank advisers and their words—

Like old Rudolphus, once a great Lord Mayor,

Whose blackened hair streamed ink before the crowd,

And also like the sorceress Dame Sidney,

Who brashly bragged the Kraken to release;

And sing most sadly still how foreign death

Of pestilence arrived and fanned the land,

And how the sick and grieving blamed the king

(For what befalls a land, both bad and good,

We curse or praise a king more than we should);

And how an ancient wizard, Robinette,

Whose striving for the throne was near as ancient, 

From basement lair a psephologic curse

Of banishment pronounced upon the king

(A mumbled curse and slurred); and how that wizard,

White of hair, and whiter still of tooth

(The latter thanks to alchemy, not youth),

Obtained the throne, at least to keep it warm

Till Kamala, his second, be the first.

And lastly sing, O Muse, the southward flight

Of Donald with his Slovene bride and queen,

The fair Melania, back to Mar-a-Lago,

Palmy castle, flower of the Flowered Land,

A land of beaches, alligatored swamps

(Filled with those beasts of nature’s noble menace,

Not legislators, lobbyists and lawyers),

Of friendly rule and friendlier imposts,

As if the MAGA’s Adam and his Eve

To Eden, not therefrom, had been expelled;

How there, beneath the sun and by the sea,

The whirl was all behind them. Spared from news,2

He’d golf some golf and rest a well-earned rest;

But not for long, for Donald longed to test

The waters circulating in the land,

And then regroup—and build again his brand.

1

Privata is a pseudonym for someone, academic in nature, who prefers to work in the shadows. Her previous contribution to American Mind, in January 2021, was a translation of Plato’s Wokeon (or Orthodoxon).

2

Editor’s note: This line, like the reference to the expulsion to Eden above it, is a clear echo—verging on painful parody—of the end of Paradise Lost: “The World was all before them, where to choose / Their place of rest, and Providence their guide; / They hand in hand with wandering steps and slow, / Through Eden took their solitary way.” The Bard knew some Milton, if little else.