Tuesday, February 20, 2007

This Lunar Beauty


Wystan Hugh Auden ..................... February 21, 1907


This lunar beauty
Has no history
Is complete and early;
If beauty later
Bear any feature
It had a lover
And is another.

This like a dream
Keeps other time
And daytime is
The loss of this;
For time is inches
And the heart’s changes
Where ghost has haunted
Lost and wanted.

But this was never
A ghost’s endeavor
Nor finished this,
was ghost at ease;
And till it pass
Love shall not near
The sweetness here
Nor sorrow take
His endless look.

--W.H. Auden

10 comments:

Atyllah said...

Did you know that Auden used to keep editing his work, even after it was published. Explains the perfect beauty, doesn't it.
Sigh...

Minx said...

A perfect tribute.

Cailleach said...

Ah, I see old Wrinkly-Haunches is everywhere today. Eyewear links Ash Wednesday and his centenary together.

Jude said...

Auden- an amazing poet. Well worth remembering.

John said...

Atyllah, he's probably still at it...

Hi, Minx! Fancy meeting you here!

Cailleach--Wrinkly Haunches? Wrinkly Haunches? I've heard "Whole Hog," and "Windy Homo," but yours is a new one on me. I'm sure the Ash Wednesday coincidence wouldn't have escaped our man; what he would have made of it I can't guess. But if I have any serious reservation about him, it's about the way he caved on belief--I've always taken it as a reaction formation related to homosexual guilt, and so haven't ever been able to fully believe it, either in his personal witness or the poetry. There's still plenty to like...

Jude! Welcome. And amazing is the word.

Cailleach said...

Do you think that he didn't believe himself worthy of being saved, or that he hoped he would. One thing that strikes me is how often he writes about variations of the nuclear family... I'm sure psychoanalytical critics have been here already...!

John said...

I think he was relatively conscious about it all, at every point. Raised in the church, he was soon aware that people like him were condemned, out of hand, and so he resolved to have nothing to do with it. It's a principled enough stance, but as the horrors of the century accumulated, he seems to have come to the conclusion that one serves the darkness or one serves the light. Clearly, the church, not to put too fine a point on it, serves the light. His personal salvation was a secondary matter, I think, and remained an open question for him. Certainly he hoped for the best, but his attitude is probably best summed up by a question he often asked in many contexts: "What's a bugger to do?"

Cailleach said...

'Certainly he hoped for the best, but his attitude is probably best summed up by a question he often asked in many contexts: "What's a bugger to do?" '
Indeedy doody - how do you answer that one with a straight face... and a clean conscience!

Not that I'm judging - todays (24th February) irish Time review section has an article about how Poland politician's dissing of the gay community has led to the generalised torture and discrimination more so than usual of the gay portion of society. Hmm, shades of fascism again...?

John said...

Fascism never died, Cailleach, as I'm sure you're aware. It was driven underground and made shameful for a time, but it's seeping back into our lives every day, like sewage from a compromised sanitary system. There's probably nothing any of us buggers can do alone, but were there enough of us united in the task, we'd be able to force the church to stop serving the interests of finance and power, force our governments to bring the corporations to heel, and force each other to examine our own bigotry and intolerance. Easy.

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