Blog Post

The Mask of Trumpery

Graphics by Michelle Jia : Image Flickr ( I, II ) 

Shelley, thou shouldst be living at this hour!


THE MASK OF TRUMPERY
(with apologies to Shelley's Mask of Anarchy)

 

As I lay asleep in the North East

The polls plunged for the Hildebeest.

And desperation forth led me

To walk in the visions of Poesy.


I saw Murder in her slump –

He had a mask like Donald Trump –

Orange was his face, yet grim;

Twelve endorsers followed him:


All were greedy; well they might

Be in admirable plight,

For one by one, and two by two,

He tossed them tax rebates to chew

Which from his campaign plane he drew.

 

Next came Fraud, and he went on,

Like John Boehner’s latest con;

His big tears, for he wept well,

Turned to mill-stones as they fell.

 

And the little children, who

Round his feet played to and fro,

Thinking every tear a gem,

Had their brains knocked out by them.

 

Clothed with the Bible, as with light,

And the shadows of the night,

Like Rubio, next, Hypocrisy

On a crocodile rode by.

 

And many more Destructions played

In this ghastly masquerade,

All disguised, even to the eyes,

Like Congressmen in power ties.

 

Last came Anarchy: he rode

On a white horse, splashed with blood;

He was pale even to the lips,

Like Death in the Apocalypse.

 

And he wore a bright red cap;

On which was written total crap;

But underneath this mark I saw—

I am Fuhrer, God, and Law!

 

With a pace stately and fast,

Over all our land he passed,

Trampling to a mire of blood

The adoring multitude.

 

And a mighty troop around,

With their trampling shook the ground,

Waving each a racist shirt

Calling for a world of hurt.

 

And with glorious triumph, they

Kept immigrants away,

Drunk as with intoxication

Of the wine of desolation.

 

O'er fields and towns, from sea to sea,

Passed the Pageant swift and free,

Tearing up, and trampling down;

Till they came to Washington.

 

And each dweller, panic-stricken,

Felt his heart with terror sicken

Hearing the tempestuous cry

Of the triumph of Trumpery.

 

For with pomp to meet him came,

Clothed in arms like blood and flame,

The hired murderers, who did sing

`Thou art God, and Law, and King.

 

We have waited, weak and lone

For thy coming, Mighty One!

Our purses are empty, our swords are cold,

Give us glory, and blood, and gold.’

 

Lobbyists and press, a motley crowd,

To the earth their pale brows bowed;

Like a bad prayer not over loud,

Whispering— `Thou art Law and God.'—

 

Then all cried with one accord,

`Thou art King, and God, and Lord;

Trumpery, to thee we bow,

Be thy name made holy now!'

 

And Trumpery (no Skeleton),

Bowed and grinned to every one,

As well as if his bad election

Had cost ten trillions to the nation.

 

For all the Towers and Palaces

Of Donald Trump were rightly his;

His the sceptre, seal, and globe,

And the gold-inwoven robe.

 

So he sent his slaves before

To seize upon the Bank and Tower,

And was proceeding there and then

To meet his pensioned Congressmen,

 

When one fled past, a maniac maid,

And her name was Hope, she said:

But she looked more like Despair,

And she cried out in the air:

 

`My father Time is weak and gray

With waiting for a better day;

See how idiot-like he stands,

Fumbling with his palsied hands!

 

`He has had child after child,

And the dust of death is piled

Over every one but me—

Misery, oh, Misery!'

 

Then she stumbled in the street

Subject of tweet after tweet,

With coughs and an unfocussed eye

(Or so said Fraud and Trumpery).

 

And the polls plunged all the more

While all of us still keeping score,

Re-re-refresh 538,

Recording angel of the hate

(Our Metatron is now named Nate)

 

That bears every unfortunate

Whose stamina is not that great,

Or who've gained a lot of weight

Away to a horrendous fate,

While swellhead tyrant laughs with glee

At universal Trumpery.

 

William Flesch is the author, most recently, of Comeuppance: Costly Signaling, Altruistic Punishment, and Other Biological Components of Fiction (Harvard, 2008), and The Facts on File Companion to 19th Century British Literature.  He teaches the history of poetry as well as the theory of poetic and narrative form at Brandeis, and has been International Chair Professor at the National Taipei University of Technology (2012) and Old Dominion Fellow of the Humanities Council and Visiting Professor at Princeton (2014-15).