The Ten Commandments - Funny Decalogue Edition

If you listened to Christopher Hitchens' analysis of the Ten Commandments a few days ago, you might remember he made reference to Arthur Hugh Clough's famous swiftian Decalogue.

Well, as luck would have it, it just so happens that I started reading Ambrose Bierce's Devil's Dictionary yesterday, and I came upon his own hilarious version of the Decalogue, which surpasses the biblical version both in style and wisdom:
Thou shalt no God but me adore:
'Twere too expensive to have more.

No images nor idols make
For Roger Ingersoll to break.

Take not God's name in vain: select
A time when it will have effect.

Work not on Sabbath days at all,
But go to see the teams play ball.

Honor thy parents. That creates
For life insurance lower rates.

Kill not, abet not those who kill;
Thou shalt not pay thy butcher's bill.

Kiss not thy neighbor's wife, unless
Thine own thy neighbor doth caress.

Don't steal; thou'lt never thus compete
Successfully in business. Cheat.

Bear not false witness--that is low--
But "hear 'tis rumored so and so."

Covet thou naught that thou hast got
By hook or crook, or somehow, got.

Now, if you're not familiar with the original Clough Decalogue, here it is in its pragmatic entirety:
Thou shalt have one God only; who
Would be at the expense of two?

No graven images may be
Worshiped, except the currency:

Swear not at all; for, for thy curse
Thine enemy is none the worse:

At church on Sunday to attend
Will serve to keep the world thy friend:

Honour thy parents, that is, all
From whom advancement may befall;

Thou shalt not kill; but need'st not strive
Officiously to keep alive:

Do not adultery commit;
Advantage rarely comes of it:

Thou shalt not steal; an empty feat,
When it's so lucrative to cheat:

Bear not false witness; let the lie
Have time on its own wings to fly:

Thou shalt not covet, but tradition
Approves all forms of competition.

And here is Ambrose Bierce's parody of that too:
Have but one God: thy knees were sore
If bent in prayer to three or four.

Adore no images save those
The coinage of thy country shows.

Take not the Name in vain. Direct
Thy swearing unto some effect.

Thy hand from Sunday work be held-
Work not at all unless compelled.

Honor thy parents, and perchance
Their wills thy fortunes may advance.

Kill not-death liberates thy foe
From persecution's constant woe.

Kiss not thy neighbor's wife. Of course
There's no objection to divorce.

To steal were folly, for 'tis plain
In cheating there is greater pain.

Bear not false witness.
Shake your head
And say that you have 'heard it said.'

Who stays to covet ne'er will catch
An opportunity to snatch.
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...

Embed this blog on your site