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Marginalia

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.
* * *


Assembling
With ceremonial pomp,
The Imperial Diet

Cravely debated
Legislation
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 jewels
And two hundred dogs.
* * *


Providentially
Right for once in his lifetime
(His reasons were wrong),
The old sod was permitted
To save civilization.
* * *


Who died in Nineteen-Sixty-Five
More worthy of honors
Than Lark, the cow

Who gave to mankind
One hundred and fifteen thousand
Litres of milk?
* * *


When we do evil,
We and our victims
Are equally bewildered.
* * *


The decent, probably,
Outnumber the swine,
But few can inherit

The genes, or procure
Both the money and time,
To join the civilized.

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