‘Epitaph On A Tyrant’ by W.H. Auden

Here is one of the great poets of our time, brilliantly articulating the paradox of one of the great leadership paradigms of our time — tyranny and dictatorship, the shadow side of the ruler, the dark side of charisma. Thank you for posting the poem and the intelligent commentary about it…

A poem for every day

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.

This brilliant poem is a precise and universal portrait of a tyrant. Auden, who lived in Berlin during Hitler’s rise to power, and who, like so many writers of his generation, joined the International Brigade in ’37 to fight the Fascists in Spain, saw his fair share of tyrants. I find it devastatingly powerful that this description can still be applied to tyrants of our own time. Tragically, the subject of this piece is timeless.

Reading this poem also brought to my mind the idea of a tyrannical God (those who have read the late Christopher Hitchens’ explosively erudite and enjoyable

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