George Orwell, 1969

Moral and mental glaciers melting slightly
Betray the influence of his warm intent.
Because he taught us what the actual meant
The vicious winter grips its prey less tightly.
Not all were grateful for his help, one finds,
For how they hated him, who huddled with
The comfort of a quick remedial myth
Against the cold world and their colder minds.
We die of words. For touchstones he restored
The real person, real event or thing;
—And thus we see no war but suffering
As the conjunction to be most abhorred.
He shared with a great world, for greater ends,
That honesty, a curious cunning virtue
You share with just the few who don’t desert you.
A dozen writers, half-a-dozen friends.
A moral genius. And truth-seeking brings
Sometimes a silliness we view askance,
Like Darwin playing his bassoon to plants;
He too had lapses, but he claimed no wings.
While those who drown a truth’s empiric part
In dithyramb or dogma turn frenetic;
—Than whom no writer could be less poetic
He left this lesson for all verse, all art.


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