The Charlotte News



In Ecstasy—

Hymn Done In Imitation Of The Dithyrambic Manner

The origin of this satiric piece, as recalled by Cash's newspaper mates, is as follows: On the Monday morning following an upset football victory by North Carolina over Duke, the Charlotte Observer's editorial page bore a gaudy panegyric in honor of the lowly Tar Heels who had overcome the vaunted power of the Blue Devils. Cash could not have cared less, but he winced at such a to-do over a football game when Hitler dominated the European continent and the very fate of the West hung in the balance. Although the editor of the rival Observer was anything but an isolationist, Cash was minded to puncture him anyhow. That editor, a native South Carolinian like Cash, was Julian S. Miller, whose Observer staff was encouraged to call him "Doctor" by virtue of the honorary LL.D. conferred upon him by his alma mater, Erskine College. Miller had enrolled at little Erskine in Due West, South Carolina, after only one year at Chapel Hill—and he used that year to justify his hot partisanship for the football Tar Heels. Cash whipped up this "dithyrambic" reply to Miller, full of classical allusions, quite spontaneously and without stopping to check references.

--Note from W.J. Cash: Southern Prophet by Joseph L. Morrison
(This article appeared in the Reader section of Southern Prophet.)

Site ed. note: Ray Wolf was the North Carolina football coach at the time. And Cash may have checked his references far more thoroughly than Professor Morrison thought. . .


Ah, me, masters, the Greeks at Thermopylae and Koritza just weren't in it. And Fogarty Fegan, of the Jervis Bay, was a mere piker.

There they were, you see, the intrepid little band of Ray Wolf's Spartans, the Six Hundred at Balaklava, Achilles all alone before Troy, Richard's men encompassed by the men of Saladin, the cadets at New Market, Pickett at Gettysburg, and Lady Godiva in the streets of Coventry.

And in front of them, not only the serried host of the Persians, not only the Moslem, not only the damnyankee and Peeping Tom, not only great Hector and the Czar's might, but the restless power of (old) Rome's legions, Lord Hitler's Blitzkrieg, and also the assembled potency of Olympus itself.

Aphrodite born of the sea foam—well, maybe not Aphrodite, either, but anyhow the Titans resistless and Mars and old Saturn and Neptune, plus a couple of Nazi pocket battleships, and Vulcan and Mercury of the winged heels and all the demi-gods and heroes, Hercules and Ajax of the mighty shoulders and Sisyphus (not Sissy-puss, silly!) and Icarus and what have you, plus maybe old Silenus and a plentiful helping of gnomes out of Walt Disney. And at their head shining Apollo himself, revered from pole to pole and throughout the starry universe.

But were they downhearted, that little Spartan band which hadn't a look-in? No! And no, two more times. Theirs not to reason why, theirs but to do and die. They piled Pelion on Ossa and Ossa on Olympus, and then struggled up those rocky and bleeding slopes, panting and whooping. With all guns blazing they steamed in, the Bonhomme Richard and the Jervis Bay rolled into one. They piled into the black ships and went sashaying around the Mediterranean on the course of old Odysseus.

With the steady blaze of their brilliance, they outdazzled Apollo. And they littered the bloody field with the slain enemy.

And all that, mind you, within the short space of less than two hours. Ring out, oh bells, ring out. And be still in your graves, oh you Lacedaemonians and you men of the Victory! Rise up again, oh, Homer and Tennyson. Now arriveth the greatest victory, the most deathless deed, of all times. For countless ages men will cheer and sob aloud to hear. Weep, Devils (3), and sing, Tar Heels (6).

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