Tuesday epigram by Humbert Wolfe

‘You cannot hope …”
by Humbert Wolfe

You cannot hope to bribe or twist,

thank God! the British journalist.

But, seeing what the man will do

unbribed, there’s no occasion to.


Humbert Wolfe’s famous epigram, written almost a hundred years ago, is a prescient comment on the News International firestorm, and I’ve given it a red heading as a wry comment on the redtop nature of the present scandal. I doubt if any of this would have shocked him; it would probably seem to him to be more – much more – of the same. Still, it seems this show will run and run, so who knows how it will end? And despite my belief that nothing much will happen at today’s Parliamentary Committee hearings I’ll still be watching them on TV later this afternoon. Can Rupert Murdoch keep his temper in check? Will the flame-haired temptress lose her infamous smirk? Will James Murdoch deny everything? My pro-tem answers are: alas no; perhaps; and yes. Watch that screen …

So hats off to Wolfe who was born in Milan in 1851, grew up in Bradford, and got a First from Oxford. He published poetry from the early 1920s while working for the Civil Service, and died in 1940.

And now, if you’d like to read other poems why don’t you look at what the other Tuesday Poets are offering: if one of the posts on the sidebar mentions a Tuesday Poem you can be sure there’s a poem in there somewhere!

4 Responses to “Tuesday epigram by Humbert Wolfe”

  1. alicia ponder Says:

    Nice and pithy, and so perfectly apt.

  2. admin Says:

    Apt indeed – just goes to show the more it changes [or the more time passes] the more it is the same thing, huh?

  3. mary mccallum Says:

    Great! Love it!

  4. admin Says:

    I particularly love the effect of the exclamation point in the second line: he knew a thing or three about punctuation as well as about the British journalist …

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