Edgar Allen Poe’s Useful Idiot, a Meditation for the 2008 Beijing Olympics

Peking Duck

“El Dorado”, meaning “The City of Gold”, by the American poet, Edgar Allen Poe (1809-1849, “mournful and never ending remembrance“), opens:

Gaily bedight,
A gallant knight,
In sunshine and in shadow,
Had journeyed long,
Singing a song,
In search of Eldorado.

The Darker Angels of America’s nature promised the young man that America was a land of limitless horizons and limitless opportunities.

But he grew old –
This knight so bold –
And o’er his heart a shadow
Fell as he found
No spot of ground
That looked like Eldorado.

The young man’s satanically inspired hallucinations of eternal youth and unending progress, lured him beyond the coast of California, to Cathay.

And, as his strength
Failed him at length,
He met a pilgrim shadow –
“Shadow,” said he,
“Where can it be –
This land of Eldorado?”

China did not deliver on its false and misinterpreted promises. But then a spectral chorus of elder American expats-in-China, who knew deep in their damn-ed hearts that they had lost their souls in China, said to the newly arrived fool:

“Over the mountains
Of the Moon,
Down the Valley of the Shadow,
Ride, boldly ride,”
The shade replied –
“If you seek for Eldorado!”

And so, the Knight was a fool not because he quested after a miracle, but because he chose to believe in a shadow play created by profane magic, just like Marlowe’s Doctor Faustus:

FAUSTUS: Nor will I henceforth: pardon me in this,
And Faustus vows never to look to heaven,
Never to name God, or to pray to him,
To burn his Scriptures, slay his ministers,
And make my spirits pull his churches down.

LUCIFER: Do so, and we will highly gratify thee. Faustus, we are
come from hell to shew thee some pastime: sit down, and thou
shalt see all the Seven Deadly Sins appear in their proper shapes.

FAUSTUS: That sight will be as pleasing unto me,
As Paradise was to Adam, the first day
Of his creation.

LUCIFER: Talk not of Paradise nor creation; but mark this show…

2008, the year of the Beijing Olympics, is here!
All you Western expats in China,

This entry was posted in Beijing Olympics, Ned Kelly's Pub, Wall of Shame and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to Edgar Allen Poe’s Useful Idiot, a Meditation for the 2008 Beijing Olympics

  1. music says:

    very interesting.
    i’m adding in RSS Reader

  2. music says:

    What do you mean ?

  3. C.A. Yeung says:


    Here are the links to this post of yours at the Telegraph and USA Today.

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