Guest poem submitted by Aseem Kaul:
(Poem #1038) Epitaph on a tyrant
Perfection, of a kind, was what he was after And the poetry he invented was easy to understand; He knew human folly like the back of his hand, And was greatly interested in armies and fleets; When he laughed, respectable senators burst with laughter, And when he cried the little children died in the streets.
Perfection is the word. In six simple lines, Auden paints a portrait of a tyrant that is both human and absolute. Auden's tyrant is not a political machine - no mention is made of his military aspirations or his place in history. Instead we have a tyrant who is frightening precisely because he is so ordinary - he laughs, he cries, he seeks perfection, indulges his interests. He is not even the motive force behind the destruction he causes - he means no harm to the children, it's just that the momentum of his tears causes them to be destroyed. What makes tyranny so terrifying is the idea that the fate of an entire country and all its people is governed by the magnified yet frail ego of a single individual. And that's exactly what this poem captures. Aseem. [Minstrels Links] Wystan Hugh Auden: Poem #50, In Memory of W. B. Yeats Poem #68, Musee des Beaux Arts Poem #256, Funeral Blues Poem #307, Lay your sleeping head, my love Poem #371, O What Is That Sound Poem #386, The Unknown Citizen Poem #427, The Two Poem #491, Roman Wall Blues Poem #494, The Fall of Rome Poem #618, The More Loving One Poem #677, Villanelle Poem #708, Five Songs - II Poem #728, from The Dog Beneath the Skin Poem #762, Miranda Poem #868, Partition Poem #889, September 1, 1939 Poem #895, August 1968 Poem #913, In Time of War, XII