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.

This Issue

February 3, 1966