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Michael R Burch Mar 2020
US Verse, after Auden
by Michael R. Burch

“Let the living creature lie,
Mortal, guilty, but to me
The entirely beautiful.”

Verse has small value in our Unisphere,
nor is it fit for windy revelation.
It cannot legislate less taxing fears;
it cannot make us, several, a nation.
Enumerator of our sins and dreams,
it pens its cryptic numbers, and it sings,
a little quaintly, of the ways of love.
(It seems of little use for lesser things.)

Published by The Raintown Review, The Barefoot Muse and Poetry Life & Times

The Unisphere mentioned is a spherical stainless steel representation of the earth constructed for the 1964 New York World’s Fair. It was commissioned to celebrate the beginning of the space age and dedicated to "Man's Achievements on a Shrinking Globe in an Expanding Universe." The lines quoted in the epigraph are from W. H. Auden’s love poem “Lullaby.” Keywords/Tags: Auden, unisphere, lullaby, verse, revelation, cryptic, legislate, enumerator, sins, dreams, value, love, sings, quaint, quaintly, lesser, greater
ConnectHook Jan 2020
♛  ♡  ♛  ♡  ♛  ♡  ♛  ♡  ♛  ♡  ♛  ♡  ♛  ♡   

As I walked out one evening,

   Walking down Bristol Street,

The crowds upon the pavement

   Were fields of harvest wheat.

And down by the brimming river

   I heard a lover sing

Under an arch of the railway:

   ‘Love has no ending.

‘I’ll love you, dear, I’ll love you

   Till China and Africa meet,

And the river jumps over the mountain

   And the salmon sing in the street,

‘I’ll love you till the ocean

   Is folded and hung up to dry

And the seven stars go squawking

   Like geese about the sky.

‘The years shall run like rabbits,

   For in my arms I hold

The Flower of the Ages,

   And the first love of the world.’

But all the clocks in the city

   Began to whirr and chime:

‘O let not Time deceive you,

   You cannot conquer Time.

‘In the burrows of the Nightmare

   Where Justice naked is,

Time watches from the shadow

   And coughs when you would kiss.

‘In headaches and in worry

   Vaguely life leaks away,

And Time will have his fancy

   To-morrow or to-day.

‘Into many a green valley

   Drifts the appalling snow;

Time breaks the threaded dances

   And the diver’s brilliant bow.

‘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.

‘Where the beggars raffle the banknotes

   And the Giant is enchanting to Jack,

And the Lily-white Boy is a Roarer,

   And Jill goes down on her back.

‘O look, look in the mirror,

   O look in your distress:

Life remains a blessing

   Although you cannot bless.

‘O stand, stand at the window

   As the tears scald and start;

You shall love your crooked neighbour

   With your crooked heart.’

It was late, late in the evening,

   The lovers they were gone;

The clocks had ceased their chiming,

   And the deep river ran on.




W.H. Auden  (1907-1973)
This poem is one of the reasons
for my love of poetry:

https://connecthook.wordpress.com/2013/07/31/w-h-auden-walks-out/
Louche tang of the berthafly ink on your nape
has me flushed glutton for its underclass umami.
'Cross a Newkie Brown kristallnacht-scape,
you: hither, blacken ballet pumps from Primani.

No rugbytackle on a hungry subtle jackal,
but it's risky (tho', tbf, not that risky)
to smuggle rumpled, prisonrolled rosepetals
int'a Dean Rhetoric afterworld for Daddy.

Whilst lukewarm ****'s a phoenix's acronyx,
asbestos gelos defervesces not, my frisky
alderliefest ticklish like Chi-nickel crucifix.
Life's too brisk: fake a risk (in itself quite risky).

A poet's the kinda herbert in Herbert Pocket's pocket,
who thinks risque lagniappe from Aganippe
is lock of autumnal pubarche from Humbert Humbert's locket,
in sink where gooseberries were electrolysised lately.

Flightless bard 'mid diorama of nephograms
(steppensheep nebula, staffage in matteshot sky),
*****, erm, Withwords, who broadsides how wrong I am:
'Heart's excrescences risk poesy's arty chokey'.

In rejectionslip braille hail, papercut rain
of masterpiece confetti do we live dangerously,
in mastertape conshreddi of 99 bandnames.
But headliner suicides win poetry lottery.

Shelley stunt of dying strangely, strangely young
cures a vocabullinachinashoplairy,
becomes Voynich manuscrap of Symbolist shantung.
Full circle: silk wormfood determines vellumworthy.

Vicious circle: rosa rosa razor est est.
Vicious Coriolis: life plugholing w/ the hoary
sullage, balneal bisnatchizzle, a stringvest-
al Virgil's dregs refresh t'highwater Dante.

For what BBQpid matchmakes man w/ Beatrice,
Stonkahontas tormeting an odd 'n' furry
berk, poet whose amrita is thridace
strain of th'infidelity toxin, Beauty.

Which is how the risky Manic defined the
entartete source of fishy fiances,
la beaute du diable. But hybristophilia
to scorpions of Venus, to Hell on a tray,

is flipbride of poet wailing to be her DWEM lover,
a foxynoxynihilipilification proxy
for transfiguration by association w/ bete noir
of Beauty: beta noir bards are Death's humerus candy.
bisnatchizzle = a *****'s ***** hair
Nigel Finn Mar 2016
Auden wrote "weep for the lives your wishes never led."
But I think it's better to be happy instead.
Why need I shed tears and feel such regret?
I've the rest of my life to achieve better yet.

I might not be sportsman, I might not be a star,
I may not be rich or drive a flash car,
I may not be known in my own local bar,
But who is to say that I won't travel far?

"Wheat is wheat" Van Gogh once said,
"Even if, at first, like grass it seems."
I've amazing things inside my head,
And I can paint my dreams

And oh, my friends! The things I dream
Would make you laugh and cry
As they focus on the age-old theme;
The persistant question- Why?
Sometimes I'm the cat who's got the cream,
Others; a web entangled fly.

It matters not much what I do,
Much more so what I think,
So to quote the great W.C.Fields;
"I believe I'll have a drink."
“If I am worth anything later, I am worth something now. For wheat is wheat, even if people think it is a grass in the beginning.”― Vincent van Gogh

When Van Gogh was a young man in his early twenties, he was in London studying to be a clergyman. He had no thought of being an artist at all. he sat in his cheap little room writing a letter to his younger brother in Holland, whom he loved very much. He looked out his window at a watery twilight, a thin lampost, a star, and he said in his letter something like this: "it is so beautiful I must show you how it looks." And then on his cheap ruled note paper, he made the most beautiful, tender, little drawing of it.

When I read this letter of Van Gogh's it comforted me very much and seemed to throw a clear light on the whole road of Art. Before, I thought that to produce a work of painting or literature, you scowled and thought long and ponderously and weighed everything solemnly and learned everything that all artists had ever done aforetime, and what their influences and schools were, and you were extremely careful about *design* and *balance* and getting *interesting planes* into your painting, and avoided, with the most astringent severity, showing the faintest *acedemical* tendency, and were strictly modern. And so on and so on.

But the moment I read Van Gogh's letter I knew what art was, and the creative impulse. It is a feeling of love and enthusiasm for something, and in a direct, simple, passionate and true way, you try to show this beauty in things to others, by drawing it.

And Van Gogh's little drawing on the cheap note paper was a work of art because he loved the sky and the frail lamppost against it so seriously that he made the drawing with the most exquisite conscientiousness and care.
Mike Essig Apr 2015
Lullaby**

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.
Soul and body have no bounds:
To lovers as they lie upon
Her tolerant enchanted *****
In their ordinary swoon,
Grave the vision Venus sends
Of supernatural sympathy,
Universal love and hope;
While an abstract insight wakes
Among the glaciers and the rocks
The hermit's carnal ecstasy.

Certainty, fidelity
On the stroke of midnight pass
Like vibrations of a bell
And fashionable madmen raise
Their pedantic boring cry:
Every farthing of the cost,
All the dreaded cards foretell,
Shall be paid, but from this night
Not a whisper, not a thought,
Not a kiss nor look be lost.

Beauty, midnight, vision dies:
Let the winds of dawn that blow
Softly round your dreaming head
Such a day of welcome show
Eye and knocking heart may bless,
Find our mortal world enough;
Noons of dryness find you fed
By the involuntary powers,
Nights of insult let you pass
Watched by every human love.
Written in time of war and uncertainty.
Mike Essig Apr 2015
September 1, 1939*

I sit in one of the dives
On Fifty-second Street
Uncertain and afraid
As the clever hopes expire
Of a low dishonest decade:
Waves of anger and fear
Circulate over the bright
And darkened lands of the earth,
Obsessing our private lives;
The unmentionable odour of death
Offends the September night.

Accurate scholarship can
Unearth the whole offence
From Luther until now
That has driven a culture mad,
Find what occurred at Linz,
What huge imago made
A psychopathic god:
I and the public know
What all schoolchildren learn,
Those to whom evil is done
Do evil in return.

Exiled Thucydides knew
All that a speech can say
About Democracy,
And what dictators do,
The elderly ******* they talk
To an apathetic grave;
Analysed all in his book,
The enlightenment driven away,
The habit-forming pain,
Mismanagement and grief:
We must suffer them all again.

Into this neutral air
Where blind skyscrapers use
Their full height to proclaim
The strength of Collective Man,
Each language pours its vain
Competitive excuse:
But who can live for long
In an euphoric dream;
Out of the mirror they stare,
Imperialism's face
And the international wrong.

Faces along the bar
Cling to their average day:
The lights must never go out,
The music must always play,
All the conventions conspire
To make this fort assume
The furniture of home;
Lest we should see where we are,
Lost in a haunted wood,
Children afraid of the night
Who have never been happy or good.

The windiest militant trash
Important Persons shout
Is not so crude as our wish:
What mad Nijinsky wrote
About Diaghilev
Is true of the normal heart;
For the error bred in the bone
Of each woman and each man
Craves what it cannot have,
Not universal love
But to be loved alone.

From the conservative dark
Into the ethical life
The dense commuters come,
Repeating their morning vow;
'I will be true to the wife,
I'll concentrate more on my work,'
And helpless governors wake
To resume their compulsory game:
Who can release them now,
Who can reach the dead,
Who can speak for the dumb?

All I have is a voice
To undo the folded lie,
The romantic lie in the brain
Of the sensual man-in-the-street
And the lie of Authority
Whose buildings ***** the sky:
There is no such thing as the State
And no one exists alone;
Hunger allows no choice
To the citizen or the police;
We must love one another or die."*

Defenseless under the night
Our world in stupor lies;
Yet, dotted everywhere,
Ironic points of light
Flash out wherever the Just
Exchange their messages:
May I, composed like them
Of Eros and of dust,
Beleaguered by the same
Negation and despair,
Show an affirming flame.
The date WWII began. Auden removed this from his Collected Poems. He thought it too topical and political to last. But there are some great lines and the extended metaphor of the bar is very well carried through. It's a bit long, but worth the time. Italics are mine.
MereCat Mar 2015
When Icarus falls
Who can say that
He does not turn his own back
To the fact that
The ploughman’s family
Are shrivelled on a diet
Of failing crops
And that the only two
Imperturbable components
To the serenity of his fallen world
Are the sun and the sea
That wash blue and gold
Over the evidence
Who can say that
Icarus is not so consumed
With the boiling wax upon his shoulders
And the screams in his throat
That he has casually
Failed to realise
That the ploughman on the cliff
Has just as far to fall
Well... Reading 'Musee des Beaux Arts' in school yesterday I began to wonder where I fitted into the picture - whether I was even present, whether I was Icarus or the ploughman or the boat and I felt like I was probably all three...
jt Sep 2014
Inspired by As I Walked Out One Evening by W.H. Auden

As I walked out one evening under the blanket of dark blue sky
Thinking about the week to come
Will the days be remembered, or rather wasted and forgotten?
Each tired child thinks the same thought.

Sunday nights slip into Monday mornings
Mondays slowly become Tuesdays;
Yet somehow the days become one
Each tired child unable to differentiate each day from the last

Wake up, brush teeth, brush hair, repeat.
Math, English, read, write, factor, and repeat.
Return home, work, eat, sleep and then repeat.
Each tired child thinks, “Is this really living?”

Stuck in a labyrinth of concrete
Routine forces every move
Taunted by the warm blanket left behind, only to leave a blanket of papers
Each tired child stares at the ticking clock.

Thoughts interrupted by bells at the same time
Routine consumes every thought
Each indistinguishable day
Where each child struggles to lift heavy eyelids.  

Same faces seen every day
Same places seen every day
Weeks blur into months, which in turn disappear in the minds
Each tired child fights every robotic move.

Closing doors and opening books
The teachers scream and roll their eyes
Where thoughts aren’t thoughts unless they are in Times New Roman
Each tired child strives to be heard.

As I walked out one evening under the blanket of dark blue sky
Thinking about the years to come
Routine is inescapable while spontaneity is a distant myth dreamt up in the minds
Of each tired adult who forgets what it’s like to be a child.
Cara Anna Apr 2014
When I spiral, it’s no waltz

I don’t fall like autumn’s leaves,
I lack their certain grace;
No -
I plummet like the driving rain
Blowing through cigarette smoke late at night

Is that what you wanted me to tell you? Not quite?

Stop searching for my poetry, it makes my skin crawl.
I’m not your great mystery, your tiny dancer
Your savior or your sin

For the love of god,
don’t stand in the waters at the bottom of this cliff
waiting to catch my fall

Go back and wander through the graveyard of my lovers
And memories of New Jersey,
If you don’t believe me

Let me walk out into the evening, like Auden may have done
I’ll be there to watch when the lovers have left
And the deep river still runs on
Conar McVicker Feb 2014
That terran voice
Has little weight,
Is slow and late;
But voice sooner
Trade all feature,
It had  a teacher
And is other.

That like a forest
Keeps all time,
If nighttime isn't
The death of that;
For time is miles
But the people's struggles,
Where goblin has lurked
Eager and deadly.

If that is never
A goblin's measure
Nor, began that;
Is goblin at rest
But when it drift
Thought shall not near
The oldness there,
And oddness steal
Her ceaseless shake.
An assignment. Created from a deconstruction of W.H.Auden's poem *This Lunar Beauty*

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