Auden's 'Let History Be My Judge' | Harper's Magazine

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Auden’s ‘Let History Be My Judge’

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We made all possible preparations,
Drew up a list of firms,
Constantly revised our calculations
And allotted the farms,

Issued all the orders expedient
In this kind of case:
Most, as we expected, were obedient,
Though there were murmurs, of course;

Chiefly against our exercising
Our old right to abuse:
Even some sort of attempt at rising,
But these were mere boys.

For never serious misgiving
Occurred to anyone,
Since there could be no question of living
If we did not win.

The generally accepted view teaches
That there was no excuse,
Though in the light of recent researches
Many would find the cause

In a not uncommon form of terror;
Others, still more astute,
Point to possibilities of error
At the very start.

As for ourselves there is left remaining
Our honour at last,
And a reasonable chance of retaining
Our faculties to the last.

W.H. Auden, Let History Be My Judge (1928) in: Collected Poems pp. 34-35.

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