About suffering they were never wrong,
The old Masters: how well they understood
Its human position: how it takes place
While someone else is eating or opening a window or just walking dully along;
How, when the aged are reverently, passionately waiting
For the miraculous birth, there always must be
Children who did not specially want it to happen, skating
On a pond at the edge of the wood:
They never forgot
That even the dreadful martyrdom must run its course
Anyhow in a corner, some untidy spot
Where the dogs go on with their doggy life and the torturer's horse
Scratches its innocent behind on a tree.
In Breughel's Icarus, for instance: how everything turns away
Quite leisurely from the disaster; the ploughman may
Have heard the splash, the forsaken cry,
But for him it was not an important failure; the sun shone
As it had to on the white legs disappearing into the green
Water, and the expensive delicate ship that must have seen
Something amazing, a boy falling out of the sky,
Had somewhere to get to and sailed calmly on.
Some personal history: besides taking classes from Anthony Hecht, I did basic research grunt work for him on his final two books of criticism in exchange for his company, On the Laws of the Poetic Arts and The Hidden Law, a book specifically about Auden's poetry, which Hecht respected deeply. In the process of the research for and conversations with Hecht over years I must have read the majority of Auden's poems at least once, some countless times, some, like the above and below, literally dozens of dozens of times.
Until two years ago or so I hadn't read Auden since Hecht's book went to the publisher in 1992, not because I'd lost my love for Auden but because I was tired of my love for Auden. Serendipity always charms but is double-edged: I rediscovered Auden just when his poetry became fresh and relevant and urgent (to me) again.
EPITAPH ON A TYRANT
Perfection, of a kind, was what he was after, And the poetry he invented was easy to understand; He knew human folly like the back of his hand, And was greatly interested in armies and fleets; When he laughed, respectable senators burst with laughter, And when he cried the little children died in the streets.
- Now you know my first name.
- Yes, this post is copy/pasted - except for this bulleted part, remember bullets, I used them before the blocks of alternating colored not-bullets - from last year's Auden birthday post.
- Yes, I updated the timeline within the cut and pasted.
- Yes, I deleted the links from last year's post.
- Of course you can have links if I'm reading links and think you'll like them. I said I wasn't going to aggregate out of obligation to me, to you, every effing day.
- I happened to be online last night, so have a few links.
- Money and collapse.
- Affect and the politics of austerity.
- Scale implosion.
- Undoing gender.
- Remembering DC.
- Seneca Creek! Used to party w/Rebilcpay and other Laytonsville folk down in there.
- My soccer team just signed the most disreputable diver of my soccer team's league's history, he is called El Pescodito, I hope to have a moral crisis at his success with United but fear he's washed up and my hate for him will not be disturbed. I don't even have hope my hate for him will be enhanced.
- United's re-branding will be like Cardiff's.
- Trends in dog-naming.
- Bringing up Hilary Mantel's body.
- Anthony's litlinks of the week.
- The fake short story boom.
- 100 sites for voracious readers. Once again, I must have been #101.
- Belle and Sebastion with Yo La Tengo opening at Merriwether this July. Merriwether blows.
- Stereotype.fm. Bonnie Prince Billy fans are most likely to be atheists, Guided by Voices fans are fifth most likely to be atheists.
- RIP Steve Deal. Evan Funk Davies played a set of his music last night.
- RIP Kevin Ayers. Here. Here. Here. Here. Here. Here. Here.
STOP ALL THE CLOCKS
Stop all the clocks, cut off the telephone,
Prevent the dog from barking with a juicy bone,
Silence the pianos and with muffled drum
Bring out the coffin, let the mourners come.
Let aeroplanes circle moaning overhead
Scribbling on the sky the message He Is Dead,
Put crêpe bows round the white necks of the public doves,
Let the traffic policemen wear black cotton gloves.
He was my North, my South, my East and West,
My working week and my Sunday rest,
My noon, my midnight, my talk, my song;
I thought that love would last for ever: I was wrong.
The stars are not wanted now: put out every one;
Pack up the moon and dismantle the sun;
Pour away the ocean and sweep up the wood.
For nothing now can ever come to any good.