A Poem by George Orwell

Before Orwell had reached his decision on his political standpoint, he wrote a poem which expressed his confusion:

A happy vicar I might have been

Two hundred years ago

To preach upon eternal doom

And watch my walnuts grow;

But born, alas, in an evil time,

I missed that pleasant haven,

For the hair has grown on my upper lip

And the clergy are all clean-shaven.

And later still the times were good,

We were so easy to please,

We rocked our troubled thoughts to sleep

On the bosoms of the trees.

All ignorant we dared to own

The joys we now dissemble;

The greenfinch on the apple bough

Could make my enemies tremble.

But girl’s bellies and apricots,

Roach in a shaded stream,

Horses, ducks in flight at dawn,

All these are a dream.

It is forbidden to dream again;

We maim our joys or hide them:

Horses are made of chromium steel

And little fat men shall ride them.

I am the worm who never turned,

The eunuch without a harem;

Between the priest and the commissar

I walk like Eugene Aram;

And the commissar is telling my fortune

While the radio plays,

But the priest has promised an Austin Seven,

For Duggie always pays.

I dreamt I dwelt in marble halls,

And woke to find it true;

I wasn’t born for an age like this;

Was Smith? Was Jones? Were you?

**********

The poem expresses how Orwell could have had a different profession had he been alive in happier times and not been the person he was. This poem has parallels to his novel Nineteen Eighty-Four, as it discusses how ungrateful people are for the privileges they do have. “It is forbidden to dream again;

We maim our joys or hide them”, describes exactly how their society lives as they are forbidden from having their freedom of expression. “I am the worm who never turned”, is like how Winston is one of the people who are part of the Party, but do not support them as expected. And finally “I wasn’t born for an age like this; Was Smith? Was Jones? Were you?”, uses the common last names of “Smith” and “Jones” to relate to the reader. Interestingly enough Winston’s last name is Smith, which is probably more than coincidence.

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