I’ve listened: and all the sounds I heard
Were music,—wind, and stream, and bird.
With youth who sang from hill to hill
I’ve listened: my heart is hungry still.
I’ve looked: the morning world was green;
Bright roofs and towers of town I’ve seen;
And stars, wheeling through wingless night.
I’ve looked: and my soul yet longs for light.
I’ve thought: but in my sense survives
Only the impulse of those lives
That were my making. Hear me say
‘I’ve thought!’—and darkness hides my day.
One of my all time favourites:
For Susan O’Neill Roe
What a thrill —
My thumb instead of an onion.
The top quite gone
Except for a sort of a hinge
A flap like a hat,
Then that red plush.
The Indian’s axed your scalp.
Your turkey wattle
Straight from the heart.
I step on it,
Clutching my bottle
Of pink fizz.
A celebration, this is.
Out of a gap
A million soldiers run,
Redcoats, every one.
Whose side are they on?
Homunculus, I am ill.
I have taken a pill to kill
Kamikaze man —
The stain on your
Gauze Ku Klux Klan
Darkens and tarnishes and when
Pulp of your heart
Confronts its small
Mill of silence
How you jump —
the house next door makes me
both man and wife rise early and
go to work.
they arrive home in early evening.
they have a young boy and a girl.
by 9 p.m. all the lights in the house
the next morning both man and
wife rise early again and go to
they return in early evening.
By 9 p.m. all the lights are
the house next door makes me
the people are nice people, I
but I feel them drowning.
and I can’t save them.
they are surviving.
they are not
but the price is
sometimes during the day
I will look at the house
and the house will look at
and the house will
weep, yes, it does, I
This week we studied Auden and the rise of modernism in poetry. The readership at the time was frustrated and felt poetry was far too abstract; they couldn’t relate it back to their own lives, Auden went some way towards incorporating the socio-economic and political atmosphere of the time in to his work. I felt a few people in the class were quite negative towards this poem, feeling it was too simple or ‘childlike’. The very beauty of this poem is the simplicity and the way he manages to ‘trick’ the reader, for he was not in mourning at all- he simply wanted to re-purpose the poem for wider release. I find it hugely poignant in its simplicity, particularly the last two stanzas- it captures beautifully the loss of innocence brought about by the death of a loved one.
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 crepe 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 forever: 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.
One of my favourites from my first poetry class:
Like a skein of loose silk blown against a wall
She walks by the railing of a path in Kensington Gardens,
And she is dying piece-meal
of a sort of emotional anemia.
And round about there is a rabble
Of the filthy, sturdy, unkillable infants of the very poor.
They shall inherit the earth.
In her is the end of breeding.
Her boredom is exquisite and excessive.
She would like some one to speak to her,
And is almost afraid that I
will commit that indiscretion.