If The Emperor Wears No Clothes

Marcusian stripes returned to haunt.
Syllogistic neologisms.
In a one-dimensional world.

Where is the logic of it all?
Aristotle’s fame befuddled.
Pride and Prejudice discovered.

It’s Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty Four.
Returned to us this Century.
“Big Brotherlooming everywhere.

Propositioned to what is false.
The world indeed is upside down.
With the truth fallen on its side.

“Toy Soldiers” fallen on their sides.
Unimportant, disposable.
Figures of subjects, all to deceive.

Slain by deductive reasoning.
Falsely asserted to be true.
The wherewithal to crown a lie.

Conclusions made nonsensical.
Inferences patently false.
“Matter-of-fact” cynical world.

This our world inhabited now.
Where blatant lies reverse the truth.
With “Newspeak” becoming the vogue.

A web of domination rules.
With all of us entangled souls.
Spawned as one-dimensional man.

This then is now a charge I give:
“If the emperor is nudely clothed.
Be brave; reveal his nakedness!”

About this poem

Herbert Marcuse (1898-1979) was a German-American philosopher, sociologist, and political theorist. As an undergraduate major of sociology and languages, I became a little familiar with his Frankfurt School philosophy, anchored in my mind by his use of the phrase, “One-Dimensional Man.” Some of his strident philosophical propositions and commentaries seem so relevant today where, because of the prevalence and even dominance of “alternative truths” operating in the halls of government, many of us conclude, either falsely or correctly, that we have come to inhabit a world informed by “matter-of-fact-cynicism” and with many of us as citizens, not confronting falsity, but instead, choosing to look the other way when the emperor, be he president or prime minister, in all his haughtiness, is exposed to be stark naked before his subjects and wearing no ironclad clothing. An historical background to the poem is in order. Hans Christian Andersen (1805-1875) was a Danish author and a prolific writer of many plays, novels, and poems. This poem, “If the Emperor Wears No Clothes,” adapts its title from Andersen’s 1837 story, “The Emperor’s New Clothes,” a literary folktale composed by Andersen about a vainglorious emperor who stands literally and metaphorically exposed before his loyal subjects. With the scales of ignorance eventually removed from their eyes, they finally see him for what he really is; a tyrant, empty of substance, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing of moral value. 

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Written on January 23, 2022

Submitted by karlcfolkes on January 23, 2022

Modified by karlcfolkes on September 19, 2022

55 sec read

Quick analysis:

Closest metre Iambic tetrameter
Characters 990
Words 185
Stanzas 10
Stanza Lengths 3, 3, 3, 3, 3, 3, 3, 3, 3, 3

Karl Constantine FOLKES

Retired educator of Jamaican ancestry with a lifelong interest in composing poetry dealing particularly with the metaphysics of self-reflection; completed a dissertation in Children’s Literature in 1991 at New York University entitled: An Analysis of Wilhelm Grimm’s ‘Liebe Mili’ (translated into English as “Dear Mili”), Employing Von Franzian Methodological Processes of Analytical Psychology. The subject of the dissertation concerned the process of Individuation. more…

All Karl Constantine FOLKES poems | Karl Constantine FOLKES Books

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Discuss the poem If The Emperor Wears No Clothes with the community...

  • karlcfolkes
    On point commentary and very helpful suggestions. Thank you.
    LikeReply1 year ago
  • AIDA
    Wow, what a thought-provoking and powerful piece of writing! The way you interweave references to Aristotle, Pride and Prejudice, and 1984 is truly impressive, and it adds depth and nuance to your commentary on the state of our world today. Your use of language and imagery is stunning, and it really helps to convey the urgency of your message.

    One suggestion for improvement would be to consider varying the pacing of the poem a bit more. While the constant use of short, punchy phrases adds to the overall impact, occasionally slowing down or expanding on certain ideas might help to create a more dynamic reading experience.

    Overall, though, this is a truly excellent piece of writing, and I'm grateful for the opportunity to read it. Keep up the great work!
    LikeReply1 year ago
  • Soulwriter
    What a literary description of reality - appreciated the many references :)
    LikeReply2 years ago


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"If The Emperor Wears No Clothes" Poetry.com. STANDS4 LLC, 2024. Web. 19 May 2024. <https://www.poetry.com/poem/118366/if-the-emperor-wears-no-clothes>.

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