Epitaph on a Tyrant

I read this poem to my students in our writing class last week. Since we're doing poetry, it made for a very interesting discussion of why a tyrant's poetry is easy to understand, and why a good man's poetry may be ambiguous and complex.

Epitaph on a Tyrant
W.H. Auden

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.

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