The gregarious
And mild-tempered never know
Each other by name:
Creatures who make friends are shy
And liable to anger.
* *

Unable to see
A neighbor to frown at,
Eutroplus beat his wife.
(after K. Lorenz)

A dead man
Who never caused others to die
Seldom rates a statue.

Small tyrants, threatened by big,
Sincerely believe
They love Liberty.

Tyrants may get killed,
But their hangmen usually
Die in their beds.

Patriots? Little boys
Obsessed by bigness,
Big pricks, big money, big bangs.

He praised his God
For the expertise
Of his torturer and his chef.

Reluctant at first
To break his sworn promise
Of Safe Conduct, after

Consulting his confessor,
In good spirits
He signed a death-warrant.

“Be godly,” he told his flock,
“Bloody and extreme
Like the Holy Ghost.”

After the massacre,
They pacified their conscience
By telling jokes.

When their Infidel
Paymaster fell in arrears,
The mercenaries
Recalled their unstained childhoods
In devout Christian homes.

With silver mines,
Recruiting grounds,
A general of real genius,

He thought himself invulnerable:
In one battle
He lost all three.

The last king
Of a fallen dynasty
Is never well spoken of.

Intelligent, rich,
Humane, the young man dreamed of
Posthumous glory
As connoisseur and patron
Of Scholarship and the Arts.

An age bent on war,
The ambitions of his king,
Decreed otherwise:
He was to be remembered
As a destroyer of towns.

Born to flirt and write light verses,
He died bravely
By the headsman’s axe.

Into the prosperous quiet
Between two wars
Came Anopheles.

The Queen fled, leaving
Books behind her
That shocked the pious usurper.

With ceremonial pomp,
The Imperial Diet

Cravely debated
It had no power to reject.

Victorious over
The foreign tyrant,
The patriots retained

His emergency
Police regulations,
Devised to suppress them.

In States unable
To alleviate Distress,
Discontent is hanged.
In semi-literate countries
Demagogues pay
Court to teen-agers.

To maintain a stud
Of polo ponies he now
Was too stout to ride,
He slapped taxes on windows,
Hearth-stones and door-steps and wives.

He walked like someone
Who’d never had to
Open a door for himself.

Aband ning his wives,
He fled with their…

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