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Apologia pro Niccolò Machiavelli

Niccolò Machiavelli

Did he deserve it then, to have that name
thrust on him, a fairly civil servant
to pious bunglers, who were better far
than the laws they made? Imagine him ashamed
of their timid sentiment and swerving
alliances with France that lost the war.
My lords have been elected, he would scold,
to save the city, not to save their souls.

The usual civil servant in retirement,
he longed for office, found farming torment.
Sarcasm and passion: working in exile,
he wrote a manual for kings and devils.

He might have laughed and known that it would stick
when first we called the Devil by ‘Old Nick’.