I cannot think it would have been
So wily, or well-loved a sin
Still taken with a tawdry grin
From first we lived ’til now.
But think! How many histories unfurled
With eager help of guile in the world?
Not manifest as battles, insults hurled,
Though subtle calculations stirred.
Not ministries of abbots, plied with grace
Nor thousands of the highest race
But rather, as the cold efface
Seditious and secure.
Remember, you, how Caesar crossed the Rubicon
And with his steps, the antiquated don
Left Pompey as an Agamemnon
With Julius enthroned.
Or how it was that Nero, maddened king
Made Christians bear such noble thing:
That persecution laid its sting
Into the many faithful mild.
Antoinette, Antoinette, most regal dame
I dare say France, what a dreadful shame!
Despite your short-lived, feeble fame
The peasants of your land are dead.
And it bears not on the smitten Henry
Nor in the tracts prolific of our ennui
And not, I say, by any enemy
Is guile the most-priz’d skill.
Rather, yet, the working minds
Conduct for emptiness that shines
With plastic miracles and magic signs,
All worthy things to boast.
So we earn our reputations well
Which says of us, what we would sell
For profit gained and weakness fell—
That greatest happiness sublime.
How different Caesar, from us here?
Or Marie from the darling dear
Who runs a fetid country near
To guile in her make?