Frank Maguire
Hiccius doccius
By Frank Maguire
June 27, 2010

"When there is no God to whom we answer every man will have his price." (1980)

The phrase "hiccius doccius" dates back to 17th century England. It is a corruption of the Latin "hicce est doctus," which means "here is a wise man." It was used by jugglers as they performed, much as "hocus pocus" was used by performers of magic tricks. Later, the term came to be pejorative, taking on the connotation of "loose and fast." In my poem, the oracle is one who juggles human souls, and plays loose-and-fast with the truth. Remember the Serpent of Eden. He sold his lie as the truth, and Sin entered each of us. Do not be enthralled, thus enslaved, by the Serpent's alluring lies. It will convince you that your strongest carnal desires are true and good. The G-d of the scripture tells you otherwise. Beloved, choose the Word of G-d and His Spirit of Truth will convict your conscience each and every moment.

hiccius doccius
(Hicce est Doctus)

"Each man must have ethics," the sage of the soap-box vowed.
And the crowd as one applauded,
And each conjointly nodded.
"'Tis ethics," they cried, "what's needed...ethics'll do the trick;
"The whole damned world's gone crazy...the whole damned world is sick."

The oracle gasconaded, and wove them into his shroud,
And smirked at the mad applause,
And slyly repeated his cause.
"Each of you must have an ethic," he canted, "on which each alone can rely."
"An ethic!" the spirited mob descanted, and oracle smirked at the cry.

He spun his guileful web — like a spider skilled at weaving.
And savored his facile deceit,
And the captives' unison bleat.
"Each of us must have an ethic," the simple repeated, "of our very own,"
While the oracle blessed their acceptance of the poisonous seed he had sown.

In the midst of the frenzied flock stood an unaffected child,
With a gentle, loving face,
And eyes aglow with grace.
"'Tis a lie straight from Hell you are speaking," were the words of the gracious youth,
"For if each man invents his own ethic, each man denies the Truth."

"Clear Truth," the lad repeated, "must be the ethic of all."
And he faced the oracle's glare,
And the fold's incredulous stare.
"There's a Truth that is transcendent, which ethics must need obey,
"Which is built on the Rock of Ages, and not upon quivering clay

Sure as G-d, the lad's resounding voice did silence the very wind.
And the oracle cowered in fright
At the youth who spoke of "Right."
"This world's not damned while Truth prevails, and mankind pays it heed.
"If Truth is each man's ethic, 'twill comfort every man's need

by Frank Maguire c. 1995

Robert Bork criticizes court's interpretation of Constitution in gay marriage debate April 26, 2004

"If each person defines meaning for themselves, that means there are no allowable moral truths," said Bork, a former U.S. Appeals Court judge. "If decisions like those I've been discussing are the waves of the future, our culture will slide into chaos and self-government will be a shrunken remnant of what we once aspired to."

© Frank Maguire


The views expressed by RenewAmerica columnists are their own and do not necessarily reflect the position of RenewAmerica or its affiliates.
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Frank Maguire

(Frank Maguire passed away on May 19, 2021. His obituary can be read here.

Frank Maguire was born in Dorchester, MA, 1938, attended schools in Massachusetts, California, and Arizona, where he completed degrees in music and English writing/Journalism. Frank has been married to Helen Isabel Maguire Estevez of Culver City, California, since 1957. They have six children, 14 grandchildren, and 17 great-grandchildren.


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