The Theorist by C.J. Dennis

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They knew him wise, they vowed him great;
They gave him power in the State,
   Set him high that he might save
   the land from a financial grave
That yawned before their stumbling feet,
Boding oblivion complete.

His reputation was immense;
He'd more than common common-sense;
   Lore he gained in famous schools
   Incomprehensible to fools
Like you and I, and Plain, blunt men
Who nibble knowledge now and then.

His coldly scientific brain
Had striven hugely to attain
   All erudition ... Midnight oil
   He burned in unremitting toil,
Till every law and link he found
That makes the old world's works go round.

And so they set him high, this man,
With place and power, till a plan
   He had evolved to save the State
   From patently impeding fate.
"For why," said they, "this man is wise;
We seek the truth. We're sick of lies."

O'er counters set upon a board
For days and anxious days he poured;
   He moved them here, then there; he went
   To olden tomes for precedent;
Proved all by checks and counter checks,
And pondered long ere he moved next.

At long last, he produced his scheme;
It was a scientific dream!
   Clear logic! Wondrous and profound,
   Both economically sound
And mathematically right,
Faultless, far-seeing, watertight.

"Saviour!" they cried with one accord ...
He swept the pieces from the board,
   And setting in their places men,
   He sought to put in practice then
His splendid scheme, invoking laws
To influence effect and cause.

But scarcely was the first move made
Ere something slipped. Men grew afraid.
   Men differed. Some were over bold,
   Some cautious. This one craved for gold,
This one absurdly scorned the cash,
This one was dull, this one was rash.

In half a week blank chaos reigned.
Ten thousand lost what ten had gained.
   "Traitor!" all cried, and dragged him down,
   And, howling, chased him from the town
Into the outer wilderness,
And left him there to dire distress.

The State went on, and muddled through,
As States are rather apt to do.
   And, after many years had passed,
   Men found a lonely tomb at last,
And knew that, in his latter days,
The sage found wisdom in a phrase.

For there upon the humble grave,
Where the rank graveyard grasses wave,
   Half hidden by the conquering weed,
   Is written for all men to read:

First published in Stead's Review, 1 October 1930

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This page contains a single entry by Perry Middlemiss published on October 1, 2013 7:27 AM.

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