Tag Archives: W.H. Auden

“GONZALO,” BY W. H. AUDEN (RECITED BY ERIC ROBERT NOLAN)

“Gonzalo”

— from W. H. Auden’s “The Sea and the Mirror”

Evening, grave, immense, and clear,
Overlooks our ship whose wake
Lingers undistorted on
Sea and silence; I look back
For the last time as the sun
Sets behind that island where
All our loves were altered: yes,
My prediction came to pass,
Yet I am not justified,
And I weep but not with pride.
Not in me the credit for
Words I uttered long ago
Whose glad meaning I betrayed;
Truths to-day admitted, owe
Nothing to the councilor
In whose booming eloquence
Honesty became untrue.
Am I not Gonzalo who
By his self-reflection made
Consolation an offence?

There was nothing to explain:
Had I trusted the Absurd
And straightforward note by note
Sung exactly what I heard,
Such immediate delight
Would have taken there and then
Our common welkin by surprise,
All would have begun to dance
Jigs of self-deliverance.
It was I prevented this,
Jealous of my native ear,
Mine the art which made the song
Sound ridiculous and wrong,
I whose interference broke
The gallop into jog-trot prose
And by speculation froze
Vision into an idea,
Irony into a joke,
Till I stood convicted of
Doubt and insufficient love.

Farewell, dear island of our wreck:
All have been restored to health,
All have seen the Commonwealth,
There is nothing to forgive.
Since a storm’s decision gave
His subjective passion back
To a meditative man,
Even reminiscence can
Comfort ambient troubles like
Some ruined tower by the sea
Whence boyhoods growing and afraid
Learn a formula they need
In solving their mortality,
Even rusting flesh can be
A simple locus now, a bell
The Already There can lay
Hands on if at any time
It should feel inclined to say
To the lonely – “Here I am,”
To the anxious – “All is well.”

 

“When he laughed, respectable senators burst with laughter.”

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.

— W. H. Auden’s “Epitaph on a Tyrant”

 

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“Law is the senses of the young.”

Law is the wisdom of the old,
The impotent grandfathers feebly scold;
The grandchildren put out a treble tongue,
Law is the senses of the young.

— excerpt from W. H. Auden’s “Law Like Love”

 

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Photo credit: Alberto Nishiyama [CC BY-SA (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)%5D

“Others say, others say/ Law is no more.”

Others say, Law is our Fate;
Others say, Law is our State;
Others say, others say
Law is no more.
Law has gone away.

And always the loud angry crowd,
Very angry and very loud,
Law is We,
And always the soft idiot softly Me.

— excerpt from W. H. Auden’s “Law Like Love”

 

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Photo credit: Gage Skidmore from Peoria, AZ, United States of America [CC BY-SA (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)%5D

“Out of it steps our future, through this door …”

“The Door” (Part I. of “The Quest”), by W. H. Auden

Out of it steps our future, through this door
Enigmas, executioners and rules,
Her Majesty in a bad temper or
A red-nosed Fool who makes a fool of fools.

Great persons eye it in the twilight for
A past it might so carelessly let in,
A widow with a missionary grin,
The foaming inundation at a roar.

We pile our all against it when afraid,
And beat upon its panels when we die:
By happening to be open once, it made

Enormous Alice see a wonderland
That waited for her in the sunshine and,
Simply by being tiny, made her cry.

 

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Photo credit: William Murphy from Dublin, Ireland [CC BY-SA 2.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)%5D

“‘I’ll love you till the ocean Is folded and hung up to dry.”

‘I’ll love you, dear, I’ll love you
Till China and Africa meet,
And the river jumps over the mountain
And the salmon sing in the street,

‘I’ll love you till the ocean
Is folded and hung up to dry
And the seven stars go squawking
Like geese about the sky.’

— from W. H. Auden’s “As I Walked Out One Evening”

 

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Photo credit:By Plismo – Own work, CC BY 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=9584464