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eyes black and white

The Ogre, the Midget, and Us

When the Soviet invaded Czechoslovakia for attempting to give a human face to socialism, W. H. Auden wrote this poem, titled "August 1968":

The Ogre does what ogres can,
Deeds quite impossible for Man,
But one prize is beyond his reach:
The Ogre cannot master Speech.

About a subjugated plain,
Among its desperate and slain,
The Ogre stalks with hands on hips,
While drivel gushes from his lips.

He is all too right that the victorious Ogre is a brute, unable to speak. Unhappily, he forgot to write this sequel, which omission I am now fixing:

A midget comes forward and greets
Great King oh let me sing your feats
The Ogre, flatter'd, in a stir,
Creates the dwarf his Minister.

Now dwarfs are dukes while ogres reign
And as the conquer'd scream in vain
Atop the rotting flesh and flies
A dwarf will laugh at man's demise.

So of course, the Ogre will always find a midget, an intelligentsia, members of the talking class, a clergy, to speak for him. The result in the long run is described in this sequel to the sequel:

Today is Noble who bears sign
Of blood from Ogre, midget, line
We'll mock or jail who'll dare to tell
Our Founding Ogre wasn't swell

At school when children learn to read
The Midget's holy word's their creed.
The moral taught: follow the lead
Of Ev'ry Savior Ogre's Deed.

There. Now you know the missing bits of the story. I had put the original poem to music years ago, but had the idea of sequels I wanted to complete before I'd publish everything, and only recently have worked my way to satisfactory rhymes. I have then continued the melody and added chords, which to my pleasure are more elaborate than anticipated. You can download the Lilypond source, or the printable PDF. To give you an idea, here is a recording of me singing it a cappella: The Ogre, the Midget, and Us, take 2 (in MP3). Once again, that's a song that I'd like to record, with the proper band of merry musicians...

Many thanks to Mencius Moldbug for pointing me to the original poem.



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eyes black and white

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