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By John I. Blair

I'm listening to a Benatzky operetta.

Im weissen Roessl, I believe it's called,
Sweet, romantic, German music,
All flowers and frills and moonbeams,
Jolly songs, beguiling entertainment,
Innocent, irresistible amusement . . .
Nelson Eddy and Jeannette MacDonald
Might have sung this, if they'd spoken Deutsch.

But beneath its honeyed sweetness hides the memory
That Benatzky was just one of many artists
Who had to flee the Vaterland
(Eight years from the night his operetta
Premiered at the Berlin Grosses Schauspielhaus).

For the brown shirts had begun to march;
Jews and gypsies, reds and unionists,
Queens and cripples
Could begin to count their days.

Evil was ascendant.

Does the urge to drug ourselves with fantasy
Peak precisely at the times
When we’re most in need of thinking?

©2003 John I. Blair

Click on author's byline for bio and list of other works published by Pencil Stubs Online.


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