Precious Poetry – 7th Edition: W.H. Auden (1907-1973)

Illustration by Ben Towle

Illustration by Ben Towle

‘Their Lonely Betters’

As I listened from a beach-chair in the shade
To all the noises that my garden made,
It seemed to me only proper that words
Should be withheld from vegetables and birds.

A robin with no Christian name ran through
The Robin-Anthem which was all it knew,
And rustling flowers for some third party waited
To say which pairs, if any, should get mated.

Not one of them was capable of lying,
There was not one which knew that it was dying
Or could have with a rhythm or a rhyme
Assumed responsibility for time.

Let them leave language to their lonely betters
Who count some days and long for certain letters;
We, too, make noises when we laugh or weep:
Words are for those with promises to keep.

* * * * *

‘The More Loving One’

Looking up at the stars, I know quite well
That, for all they care, I can go to hell,
But on earth indifference is the least
We have to dread from man or beast.

How should we like it were stars to burn
With a passion for us, we could not return?
If equal affection cannot be,
Let the more loving one be me.

Admirer as I think I am
Of stars that do not give a damn,
I cannot, now I see them, say
I missed one terribly all day.

Were all stars to disappear or die,
I should learn to look at an empty sky
And feel its total dark sublime,
Though this might take me a little time.

* * * * *

Auden

W.H. Auden – Selected Poems [download e-book in PDF]

Previously on the Precious Poetry series of this blog:

#01 – Emily Dickinson
#02 – Joseph Brodsky
#03 – John Donne
#04 – Robert Frost
#05 – Sylvia Plath
#06 – Lawrence Ferlinghetti


W. H. Auden – Tell Me The Truth About Love (documentary, 58 min)

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19 thoughts on “Precious Poetry – 7th Edition: W.H. Auden (1907-1973)

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