The Confessions of St. Ace

Notes toward a clarification of the Confessions

There is no St. Ace recorded in the Catalogue of Saints, in Voragine's Legenda Aurea or in the encyclopedic Acta Sanctorum of the Bollandists.

The most likely candidate is St Ache, who was a deacon martyred near Amiens under Diocletian. St Ache was born to pagan parents, wore a hair shirt from the cradle, and took his mother's breast only on feast days, and never during the Major or Minor Lents. A lifelong vegan, he experimented widely with lentils and cape gooseberries and gave his name to the celebrated dish known as 'Melon a St Ac(h)e', which is still regarded by dancers and singers as a restorative. His life was composed by the Provencal jongleur Gervaise de Blois in terza rima, and was later expanded into the monumental romanza by the scholarly 18th century Neapolitan adventurer Cazzo de' Cazzi (PG). Because of the saint's tendency to become rapt in spirit, both Gervaise and Cazzo play constantly on his name.

The Gnostic Ace: A Translation from the Mythographica of Sheillian

[Shellian did not credit his sources, which may be regarded as dubious--Trans.]

When St Ace was scarcely a day out of his mother's womb he stood up in his swaddling clothes and said, "Every good boy deserves favours," which caused his mother greatly to wonder. This dictum was adopted as a motto by St. Ace's disciples.

At three months he grew a full beard, and called for a guitar. At four months he jammed with holy men, in between recourse to the breast, and so generous was his infant heart that he offered his mother's breast to any who suffered from cravings of the belly, and many came and were comforted, for the breast never ran dry so long as St Ace was holding it.

In every diaper he left a holy sign, and these could not be washed away, no matter how hard his mother worked upon them with her scrubbing stone, and Lo! a tunny fish lifted its head from the river, and said, "Wretched woman, you do the devil's laundry!" so she understood these were no ordinary nappies. These cloths have been preserved, and bound with a pin, and together they form the Diaper Gospel, and there things of great holiness are written, but only those whose eyes are opened can read them.

So it is that St. Ace is often depicted in a diaper of finest velvet, to signify the precious worth of his teachings, but the truth is that St. Ace was so humble, he cast off his diapers once his message was delivered, and refused to wear more than a small square of cardboard, with some figures printed upon it, which he moved about his person with such deftness of hand that despite his scant attire, he never gave a pure woman unclean thoughts.

He performed many miracles as a child. When his mother weaned him from the breast, he spoke against the idolatrous worship of breakfast cereals, then rampant in the city, and denounced as devils the pagan spirits that inhabited them (vampires, leprechauns, and ship's-captains). Then he exhorted the pagan spirits to come out of his bowl and get them hence, which they did, hideously grinning. He brought anchovies back to life, and like a wise parent, schooled them in the ways of the wild before he set them free. St. Ace was so tender-hearted that he wept to see an onion sliced, and administered last rites to crudités, nor would he brush his beard lest he disturb the luncheon of his fleas. He was so tender-hearted that when he played one note, he wept for all the notes that he did not play. It was said that the shadow of his body falling across a guitar would put it in tune, and thousands brought their guitars to him to be made well.

One time an invisible devil snapped all his guitar strings but one, and sat back to sneer and jibe, but the joke was on him, for St Ace miraculously played the entirety of the Ring Cycle on the single remaining string.

Now it came to pass that a giant sheep terrorized the countryside, grazing on crops and livestock and huts and hovels without discrimination. An army mobilized against the sheep, but gentle St. Ace believed that he could persuade the sheep to leave peacefully, so he told the army to hold their fire, and he went alone with his guitar to speak to the sheep. "Go, gentle sheep, and sin no more," he sang, but the sheep, which was really a devil, swallowed St Ace whole, along with a quantity of grass and a park bench. Then did the army-of-little-faith launch their arrows, upon which the sheep melted away like smoke, and all men saw the holy man pierced by a thousand arrows, with light shining from his wounds. And so St Ace won the palm of martyrdom.

(Trans. Shelley Jackson)

Humble Bee

Once upon a time
I could have had it all
A princess with a price on her head
Or the prince who'd climb her wall
But when pride has it in for someone
None of us can check the fall
Now I'm humble as a bumblebee
I'm getting used to how things have to be
Just another mumble
Buzzing round and round in rings
So afraid that I won't be king
This is the sting, I still want everything
Here is the twist, you're on my list and
Here's what I mean, you're still the queen
And I want you

Now I wonder
If I will ever be
The lighthouse in a sea of shadows
That you were when you shined for me
When I was going under
You knew when and where to be
Now I'm as good as Ebenezer after his conversion
I'd give all my goods away with no coercion
I'd give almost anything
Just to hear the hum of your wings
This is the sting, I still want everything
Here is the twist, you're on my list and
Here's what I mean, you're still the queen
And I want you, honey, I want you

I was as 'umble as Uriah
Just before his tumble
But I fumbled for the best of me
Amongst the jumble
Heaven knows where we went wrong
Don Quixote or Donkey Kong
This is the sting, I still want everything
Here is the twist, you're on my list
Here's what I mean, you're still the queen
And I want you, honey, I want you
I want you









Interestingly, in this sermon upon pride, the words 'Humble Bee' never actually appear as a complete phrase. The phrase is a reminder of St.Ace's knowledge of zoology: the humble bee makes its nest in the earth, hence 'humble', from Lat. umilis: 'Bumble', therefore, by onomatopoeia. The last missing verse, found in manuscript in a case in The Attic of Vashon Hall, reads: 'What's the moral/ Just that I'm mortal too/ Apparently my arrogance/ Was purely based on point of view/ I got used to other bees/ Buzzing all around you/ But it's done wonders for my underside (understand me)/ I am left with nothing else to hide/ Skies full of thunder used to make me gulp for air/ Nowadays, I just don't care.'

(3-5) 'Princess.... price=....prince....pride' clearly echoes The Vision of William Concerning Piers The Plowman (late 14th century - commonly attributed to William Langland) in its alliterative verve.

(4) 'Climb her wall' is clearly hymeneal. Cf Spenser, FQ ccci 24.,'escale the walle of thy virginitee'. Is it fanciful to identify the princess of the wall here with the 'Princesse of Wallis' ('Di') in People Love to Watch you Die (v. infr.)? The 'princess with a price on her head' sounds the note of religious symbolism which echoes through the later lyrics.

(6) Compare in Same Piece Of Air: 'Who are we to try to stop the fall?' The lack of prelapsarian innocence is a common theme throughout The Confessions. Eden is imperfect and the fall inevitable. 'But when pride....the fall': a verbatim translation of Aeschylus, Prometheus in Bondage 1223a/1224.

(12) The sting: this pun is somewhat redeemed by the simple sense of 'a swindle' (modern American). But 'Sting' and 'twist' must also surely echo here the tortures undergone by early martyrs: the author may have in mind pricking, flaying alive and the rack. Doubtless, all these things were in the writer's mind during composition.

(18) This line originally read 'The lighthouse in a sea of shit'. It is thought that this line was excised by The Dark Editor (see below).

(22) Ebenezer Scrooge, a character from Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol (1843). Scrooge is a miser whose haunting by a series of ghosts on Christmas Eve teaches him the meaning of kindness.

(30) Uriah Heep is a character from David Copperfield (1849), 'a hypocritical plotter who feigned humility=8A a swindler and forger who was ultimately exposed by Micawber' (Who's Who In Dickens, Thomas Alexander Fyfe) Heep: 'Be 'umble, Uriah, says father to me, and you'll get on.' The point is that Uriah was not humble at all.

(33) 'The jumble': either in the sense of 'disorder' or in the sense of the sale at which the 'jumble' is sold: 'miscellaneous cheap or second-hand articles to be sold at a charitable sale' (late 19th century). Dylan Thomas: 'A pair of Postman's trousers from Bethesda Jumble.'

(34) 'My list....The Queen' : the author envisages a Rapunzel-like princess of chivalric medieval romance and the play on 'the lists' is typically St.Acian.

(35) Don Quixote is the title character from Miguel de Cervantes' epic novel Don Quixote de la Mancha, El Ingenioso Hidalgo (1615). Alonso Quijano's mind is so crazed by reading novels of romance and chivalry that he believes himself called upon to redress the wrongs of the whole world and, knighted by an innkeeper whose miserable hostelry he mistakes for a castle, sets out, as Don Quixote, on a series of adventures. Donkey Kong, on the other hand, was one of the first popular video games played in the late twentieth century.

She's a Piece of Work

Some things look hard and then they're not
Like getting on a tightrope and falling off
But there's never been anything harder than losing her
She's so demanding, so intense
Her expectation of the ordinary is so immense
Better take her at her word
It would be easier to give up than live up to her
Such ludicrous perfection isn't found on earth
And for anyone who said that love was easy
I said, for anyone who said that love was easy
She's a piece of work

She's up and down, she's round the wheel
She's governed absolutely by the way she feels
That's a lethal combination in a small house when it rains
We sit around, then it pours
Me, I'm so addicted to the great indoors
And she wants to shine again
She's the only person I have ever met
Who makes me feel I haven't tried hard yet
And for anyone who said that love was easy
I said, for anyone who said that love was easy
She's a piece of work

And for anyone who said that love was easy
For anyone who said that love was easy
She's a piece of work






What a piece of work is a man ... how like an angel' (Shakespeare: Hamlet Act ii sc.2). Note the obsessive religious leitmotiv throughout.

(8) The 'ludicrous perfection' is a clear reference to the exercise of heroic virtue necessary to sainthood. Further evidence, if it were needed, of St.Ace's extreme hyperdulia.

(12) 'She's round the wheel' is a Hapax Legomenon (otherwise unknown in the English language and possibly invented by the author.) Possibly the medieval wheel of fortune? St Catherine of Alexandria (cult suppressed) was literally torn apart by two opposing forces: 'duae autem contrario impetu agerentur ut illae deorsum lacerando contraherent, illae oppugnantes sursum devorando impingerent.' (Golden Legend. Graesse 789f)

(13) Vide Aristot. Poetic, chap.ix.

(14) See Absolutism And Enlightenment by R.W.Harris (House Of Canterbury,1902)

(17) 'To shine again' is used countless times of spiritual radiance of eg. St Clare of Assisi: 'Clara praeclara sanguine/vulti praeclarior/ clara clarescit nomine/moribus clarior.