To Orwell Today,

Dear madam,

I am a huge fan of Orwell's work and whilst reading 'Why I Write', one of his most intriguing essays with which I am sure you are familiar, I came across 'A Little Poem', which he refers to in his essay as an embodiment of his struggle to find a definite political stance. I also see the poem as a reflection on one's tendency towards nostalgia - a theme which is heavily explored in 'Coming Up For Air', if I remember rightly.

I just wondered if you could shed any more light on the meaning of the poem - any interpretations you could offer would be hugely appreciated. I am rather confused by the penultimate stanza, which makes reference to the priest who offers an Austin Seven, "For Duggie always pays". Any explanation of this part of the poem would be much appreciated.

Your website, by the way, is most interesting and should be congratulated.

Best wishes,
John Price

Greetings John,

Yes, I am familiar with Orwell's essay "Why I Write" which was published in 1947. I have excerpts of it at WHY ORWELL WROTE 1984

I'm also familiar with the fairly long "little poem" he includes in that essay which starts with the line "A happy vicar I might have been..."

I transcribe the poem in its entirety in the article ORWELL THE HAPPY VICAR where I give my interpretation of some of it.

However, I have no idea what he means in that stanza you question, ie:

"...And the commissar is telling my fortune
While the radio plays,
But the priest has promised an Austin Seven,
For Duggie always pays...."

I don't know who the commissar is who's telling his fortune (although I know an Austin Seven is a car), nor why the priest has promised him one, or who "Duggie" is and why Duggie pays.

Perhaps a reader will write in and enlighten us, now that you've brought the question to the fore.

All the best,
Jackie Jura

...conversation continues: DUGGIE & ARAM IN ORWELL POEM (reader Tony explains who "Duggie" and Eugene Aram are in Orwell's "little poem" about the happy vicar)

WHY I WRITE, by George Orwell (...By the end of 1935 I had still failed to reach a firm decision. I remember a little poem that I wrote at that date, expressing my dilemma: A happy vicar I might have been, Two hundred years ago, To preach upon eternal doom, And watch my walnuts grow...)

Jackie Jura
~ an independent researcher monitoring local, national and international events ~