Works in the Herald 1933

"Thrusting forward his powerful jaw and glaring ahead, Hitler began a speech in deadly restraint, but soon shouted in fury and sobbed in passion, raising tornadoes of applause." From a cabled report of Herr Hitler's Munich speech.

Well, I don't know.  Maybe it's quite all right,
   And maybe it is I who am perverse,
Finding in this unedifying sight
Mere mummery, and hearing but a blight
   Of words and frowsty fustian -- or worse
Maybe I'm wrong; and homo sapiens yet,
Among the sentient, stays wise Nature's pet.

First the exordium, restrained and grim,
   Stirring emotions, spreading subtle spells;
And then the swelling voice, the waving limb,
The flashing eye, the pep, the yells, the vim
   The crashing peroration -- and hell's bells! ...
Old stuff, so I was once led to suppose
Archaic stuff, and yet it goes, it goes.

Once Epictetus or -- well, shall we say
   Marcus Aurelius stirred in me a hope,
As reason grew and error fell away,
Giants might rise to lead us in our day
   Out of this darkened maze in which men grope.
But now I know the man who gets that job
Is he who can spellbind the muddied mob.

But life's a paradox -- Mayhap I'm wrong
   In seeking guidance from the enlightened wise
Looking for leaders in the sanely strong
To spread sweet reason 'mid the puzzled throng --
   A paradox all men must recognise;
And it may be our world shall yet give thanks,
And owe salvation to its mountebanks.

Herald, 6 March 1933, p6

Copyright © Perry Middlemiss 2005