Wystan Hugh Auden Quotes

Follow, poet, follow right To the bottom of the night, With your unconstraining voice Still persuade us to rejoice; With the farming of a verse Make a vineyard of the curse, Sing of human unsuccess In a rapture of distress; In the deserts of the heart Let the healing fountains start, In the prison of his days Teach the free man how to praise.

Wystan Hugh Auden

By mourning tongues The death of the poet was kept from his poems. But for him it was his last afternoon as himself, An afternoon of nurses and rumours; The provinces of his body revolted, The squares of his mind were empty, Silence invaded the suburbs. The current of his feeling failed: he became his admirers. Now he is scattered over a hundred cities And wholly given over to unfamiliar affections; To find his happiness in another kind of wood And be punished under a foreign code of conscience. The words of a dead man are modified in the guts of the living.

Wystan Hugh Auden

When he laughed, respectable senators burst with laughter, And when he cried the little children died in the streets.

Wystan Hugh Auden

They never forgot That even the most 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.

Wystan Hugh Auden

O plunge your hands in water, Plunge them in up to the wrist; Stare, stare in the basin And wonder what you've missed. 'The glacier knocks in the cupboard, The desert sighs in the bed, And the crack in the tea-cup opens A lane to the land of the dead.

Wystan Hugh Auden

The stars are dead. The animals will not look. We are left alone with our day, and the time is short, and History to the defeated May say Alas but cannot help nor pardon.

Wystan Hugh Auden

And the poor in their fireless lodgings, dropping the sheets Of the evening paper: "Our day is our loss, O show us History the operator, the Organiser, Time the refreshing river." And the nations combine each cry, invoking the life That shapes the individual belly and orders The private nocturnal terror: "Did you not found the city state of the sponge, "Raise the vast military empires of the shark And the tiger, establish the robin's plucky canton? Intervene. Descend as a dove or A furious papa or a mild engineer, but descend."

Wystan Hugh Auden

Lay your sleeping head, my love Human on my faithless arm; Time and fevers burn away Individual beauty from Thoughtful children, and the grave Proves the child ephemeral; But in my arms till break of day Let the living creature lie: Mortal, guilty, but to me The entirely beautiful.

Wystan Hugh Auden

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 woods; For nothing now can ever come to any good.

Wystan Hugh Auden

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.

Wystan Hugh Auden

Acts of injustice done Between the setting and the rising sun In history lie like bones, each one.

Wystan Hugh Auden

Cold, impossible, ahead Lifts the mountain's lovely head Whose white waterfall could bless Travellers in their last distress.

Wystan Hugh Auden

Now the leaves are falling fast, Nurse's flowers will not last; Nurses to their graves are gone, And the prams go rolling on.

Wystan Hugh Auden

I am beginning to lose patience With my personal relations. They are not deep And they are not cheap.

Wystan Hugh Auden

Look, stranger, on this island now The leaping light for your delight discovers, Stand stable here And silent be, That through the channels of the ear May wander like a river The swaying sound of the sea.

Wystan Hugh Auden

To ask the hard question is simple, The simple act of the confused will.

Wystan Hugh Auden
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