Friday, May 22, 2020

Compline by W. H. Auden


Now, as desire and the things desired
Cease to require attention,
As, seizing its chance, the body escapes,
Section by section, to join
Plants in their chaster peace which is more
To its real taste, now a day is its past,
Its last deed and feeling in, should come
The instant of recollection
When the whole thing makes sense: it comes, but all
I recall are doors banging,
Two housewives scolding, an old man gobbling
A child's wild look of envy,
Actions, words, that could fit any tale,
And I fail to see either plot
Or meaning; I cannot remember
A thing between noon and three.

Nothing is with me now but a sound,
A heart's rhythm, a sense of stars
Leisurely walking around, and both
Talk a language of motion
I can measure but not read: maybe
My heart is confessing her part
In what happened to us from noon till three,
That constellations indeed
Sing of some hilarity beyond
All liking and happening,
But, knowing I neither know what they know
Nor what I ought to know, scorning
All vain fornications of fancy,
Now let me, blessing them both
For the sweetness of their cassations,
Accept our separations.

A stride from now will take me into dream,
Leave me, without a status,
Among its unwashed tribes of wishes
Who have no dances and no jokes
But a magic cult to propitiate
What happens from noon till three,
Odd rites which they hide from me - should I chance,
Say, on youths in an oak-wood
Insulting a white deer, bribes nor threats
Will get them to blab - and then
Past untruth is one step to nothing,
For the end, for me as for cities,
Is total absence: what comes to be
Must go back into non-being
For the sake of the equity, the rhythm
Past measure or comprehending.

Can poets (can men in television)
Be saved? It is not easy
To believe in unknowable justice
Or pray in the name of a love
Whose name one's forgotten: libera
Me, libera C (dear C)
And all poor s-o-b's who never
Do anything properly, spare
Us in the youngest day when all are
Shaken awake, facts are facts,
(And I shall know exactly what happened
Today between noon and three)
That we, too, may come to the picnic
With nothing to hide, join the dance
As it moves in perichoresis,
Turns about the abiding tree.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.