Monday, 8 April 2013


While I think about it, here's a poem from the 1930s about the way hegemony leads us to maintain, rather than overthrow, political systems which sacrifice us for the benefit of The System, or its operators. Thatcher would hate it. 

This Excellent Machine by John Lehmann

This excellent machine is neatly planned.
A child, a half-wit would not feel perplexed:
No chance to err, you simply press the button -
At once each cog in motion moves the next,
The whole revolves, and anything that lives
Is quickly sucked towards the running band,
Where, shot between the automatic knives,
It's guaranteed to finish dead as mutton.

This excellent machine will illustrate
The modern world divided into nations:
So neatly planned, that if you merely tap it
The armaments will start their devastations,
And though we're for it, though we're all convinced
Some fool will press the button soon or late,
We stand and stare, expecting to be minced -
And very few are asking 'Why not scrap it?'


Stephen Gregg said...

I like this very much. I don't know anything about Lehmann, but there is something very 18c about this. Diction and heroic couplets aside, it's quite Popean. I wonder if Lehmann is riffing off Pope's Essay on Man and the whole 'That everything is, is for the best' idea (I paraphrase)?

Anonymous said...

Correction of typo:

'Thatcher would hate it' -> 'Thatcher would have hated it'

Happy days :)