The Folly of Atheism

Fog040715AFrom time to time Patience Worth would be asked to perform ‘stunts’ of composition to demonstrate that her abilities were far and away beyond those writing skills of the common man or woman.  Dr. Walter Franklin Prince documented some of these ‘stunts’ in his 1926-27 investigative report of Pearl Curran and Patience Worth titled  “The Case of Patience Worth”  Often these tests involved delivering two different  writings at the same time, shuffling one line of a poem, say, with a line of something different, usually a narrative or dialogue

In one test called “A Climactic Experiment” by Dr. Prince, he asked Patience to do something which he considered “entirely unreasonable.”  He suggested that she “dictate something in the way of a dialogue, breaking off every little while and giving a line of poetry in modern style,  and so on alternately, until the poem is completed.”  Dr. Prince suggested that  the subject of the dialogue be any kind of a conversation between a lout and a wench at a Fair and that the subject for the poem would be “The Folly of Atheism”.

Patience Worth took up the challenge immediately beginning with the conversation between a lout and a wench at a Fair and then interspersing it with lines of the poem.

Ha’e ye seen the mummers settin’ up a puppet show, athin the fieldin’?
Nae.

Who doubts his God is but a lout;
Who piths his wisdom with egotry
Hath lost his mark.

Aye, I see’d ’em fetchin’ past, and buyed o’ a ribbon and a anew latchet, and a shoon-bucklin and tasseled thongs.

 To doubt is but to cast thee as a stone
Unto the very heart of God.

Aye, and I fetched me a whistle; and heared the doings of the village—that Mark, the smithy, haed a new wench; and she be heft.
Aye a wide tale.  I heared it, but heeded it nae.  I been feastin’ ‘pon the new thong.

Who doubts his God
Hath but announced his own weak limitation;
Hath tied his hand and fettered of his foot.

Weel, ‘gad!  Did ye see the dominie wi’ his new breeks, and a sabba’ shirt?
Weel, can ye heed it, and him at the fair?
A wide tale, eh?

To doubt thy God
Is but to stop the everlasting flow of mercy;
To die of thirst and lose thee in the chaos of thyself.

Dr. Prince stated that “About eight seconds elapsed between my announcement of the subjects and the beginning of dictation, which proceeded uninterruptedly to the end, about as rapidly as it could be taken down. ” He continues saying, “Is there any mark in this indicating haste, or hinting that another composition of widely differing subject, mood and style was proceeding wither simultaneously or in instant alternation?  Is there any dislocation of language therein, any hiatus of thought?  It there any lack of meat in the lines, of valid and forceful meaning?  What word needs alteration?  Note the adroit introduction of the word lout from the theme given for the other composition, as much as to say that the doubter of God is also an awkward blunderer, a shallow bumpkin.  The last four lines are magnificent, sweeping as they do from the stopping of the stream of mercy in Heaven to the fall into the crater of doom on earth.”

Here is the poem stripped apart from the conversation;.

THE FOLLY OF ATHEISM

Who doubts his God is but a lout;
Who piths his wisdom with egotry
Hath lost his mark. To doubt
Is but to cast thee as a stone
Unto the very heart of God.
Who doubts his God hath but announced
His own weak limitation;
Hath tied his hand and fettered of his foot.
To doubt thy God is but to stop
The everlasting flow of mercy,
To die of thirst and lose thee
In the chaos of thyself.

and here is the dialogue;

He:       Ha’e ye seen the mummers settin’ up a puppet show athin the fieldin’?
She:      Aye, I see’d ’em fetchin’ past, and buyed o’ a ribbon and a new latchet, and a shoon- bucklin and tasseled thongs.
He:       Aye, and I fetched me a whistle, and heared the doings of the village—              Mark,  the smithy haed a new wench, and she be heft.
She:      Aye. a wide tale.  I heared it, but heeded it nae, I bein’ feastin’ ‘pon the     new  thong.
He:       Weel ‘gad!  Did ye see the dominie wi’ his new breeks, and a sabba’ shirt?
She:      Weel, can ye heed it—and him at the fair?  A wide tale, eh?

Dr. Prince continues to give his praise for the endeavor and ends by saying ‘these two
themes, so widely different in subject, tone, period, and language requirement, with no
notice and consequently no opportunity for antecedent reflection unless eight seconds can
be regarded as opportunity, were .  .  .  from the lips of the woman whose life history,
previous to the announcement of “Patience Worth,” had given no indication or promise of
literary ability. ”

 

 

 

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