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Epitaph On A Tyrant

W.H. Auden

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Added by: Raju
This poem is so far, my favorite, by Auden. It says so much in so few words. The layers of meanings it has is just incredible. I think everyone ought to explore and appreciate the humor as well as the pain underneath it all.
Added by: Malcolm
I wholeheartedly agree that this "little" poem encapsulates the brilliance of Auden. In many ways it is a WH Auden archetype showing his use of conventional simple rhyming couplets which almost have the rhythm and feel of nursery rhymes.

The simplicity typically with Auden underlines rather than bellies the seriousness of the topic. Auden’s love of classical subjects and metaphors is applied to the growing fear of his times Fascism. In two lines he brilliantly encapsulates the bloated ridiculousness of dictatorship along with its dire consequences. We have the mock laughter of sycophantic senators (good men doing nothing?) and the resulting death of innocent life crushed under a dictatorships Pompous dreams of ordered perfection.

It reminds me of another of his poems “The Fall of The Roman Empire” once again it is the classical world which provides the metaphor for contemporary events. This time the tables are reversed, the decline of Rome is not put down to great tyrants but caused by the intransigence and corruption of the small folk like the “Absconding tax-defaulters” or the clerk who tires of having to do the correct paper work.

Two poems that explore the theme of collapsing societies and warm of different dangers.

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