domenica 4 aprile 2010

1929 di W.H. Auden


It was Easter as I walked in the public gardens

Hearing the frogs exhaling from the pond,

Watching traffic of magnificent cloud

Moving without anxiety on open sky--

Season when lovers and writers find

An altering speech for altering things,

An emphasis on new names, on the arm

A fresh hand with fresh power.

But thinking so I came at once

Where solitary man sat weeping on a bench,

Hanging his head down, with his mouth distorted

Helpless and ugly as an embryo chicken.

So I remember all of those whose death

Is necessary condition of the season's setting forth,

Who sorry in this time look only back

To Christmas intimacy, a winter dialogue

Fading in silence, leaving them in tears.

And recent particulars come to mind:

The death by cancer of a once hated master,

A friend's analysis of his own failure,

Listened to at intervals throughout the winter

At different hours and in different rooms.

But always with success of others for comparison,

The happiness, for instance, of my friend Kurt Groote,

Absence of fear in Gerhart Meyer

From the sea, the truly strong man.

A 'bus ran home then, on the public ground

Lay fallen bicycles like huddled corpses:

No chattering valves of laughter emphasised

Nor the swept gown ends of a gesture stirred

The sessile hush; until a sudden shower

Fell willing into grass and closed the day,

Making choice seem a necessary error.

April 1929


Coming out of me living is always thinking,

Thinking changing and changing living,

Am feeling as it was seeing--

In city leaning on harbour parapet

To watch a colony of duck below

Sit, preen, and doze on buttresses

Or upright paddle on flickering stream,

Casually fishing at a passing straw.

Those find sun's luxury enough,

Shadow know not of homesick foreigner

Nor restlessness of intercepted growth.

All this time was anxiety at night,

Shooting and barricade in street.

Walking home late I listened to a friend

Talking excitedly of final war

Of proletariat against police--

That one shot girl of nineteen through the knees,

They threw that one down concrete stair--

Till I was angry, said I was pleased.

Time passes in Hessen, in Gutensberg,

With hill-top and evening holds me up,

Tiny observer of enormous world.

Smoke rises from factory in field,

Memory of fire: On all sides heard

Vanishing music of isolated larks:

From village square voices in hymn,

Men's voices, an old use.

And I above standing, saying in thinking:

"Is first baby, warm in mother,

Before born and is still mother,

Time passes and now is other,

Is knowledge in him now of other,

Cries in cold air, himself no friend.

In grown man also, may see in face

In his day-thinking and in his night-thinking

Is wareness and is fear of other,

Alone in flesh, himself no friend.

"He say 'We must forgive and forget,'

Forgetting saying but is unforgiving

And unforgiving is in his living;

Body reminds in him to loving,

Reminds but takes no further part,

Perfunctorily affectionate in hired room

But takes no part and is unloving

But loving death. May see in dead,

In face of dead that loving wish,

As one returns from Africa to wife

And his ancestral property in Wales."

Yet sometimes man look and say good

At strict beauty of locomotive,

Completeness of gesture or unclouded eye;

In me so absolute unity of evening

And field and distance was in me for peace,

Was over me in feeling without forgetting

Those ducks' indifference, that friend's hysteria,

Without wishing and with forgiving,

To love my life, not as other,

Not as bird's life, not as child's,

"Cannot," I said, "being no child now nor a bird."

May 1929


Order to stewards and the study of time,

Correct in books, was earlier than this

But joined this by the wires I watched from train,

Slackening of wire and posts' sharp reprimand,

In month of August to a cottage coming.

Being alone, the frightened soul

Returns to this life of sheep and hay

No longer his: he every hour

Moves further from this and must so move,

As child is weaned from his mother and leaves home

But taking the first steps falters, is vexed,

Happy only to find home, a place

Where no tax is levied for being there.

So, insecure, he loves and love

Is insecure, gives less than he expects.

He knows not if it be seed in time to display

Luxuriantly in a wonderful fructification

Or whether it be but a degenerate remnant

Of something immense in the past but now

Surviving only as the infectiousness of disease

Or in the malicious caricature of drunkenness;

Its end glossed over by the careless but known long

To finer perception of the mad and ill.

Moving along the track which is himself,

He loves what he hopes will last, which gone,

Begins the difficult work of mourning,

And as foreign settlers to strange country come,

By mispronunciation of native words

And by intermarriage create a new race

And a new language, so may the soul

Be weaned at last to independent delight.

Startled by the violent laugh of a jay

I went from wood, from crunch underfoot,

Air between stems as under water;

As I shall leave the summer, see autumn come

Focusing stars more sharply in the sky,

See frozen buzzard flipped down the weir

And carried out to sea, leave autumn,

See winter, winter for earth and us,

A forethought of death that we may find ourselves at death

Not helplessly strange to the new conditions.

August 1929


It is time for the destruction of error.

The chairs are being brought in from the garden,

The summer talk stopped on that savage coast

Before the storms, after the guests and birds:

In sanatoriums they laugh less and less,

Less certain of cure; and the loud madman

Sinks now into a more terrible calm.

The falling leaves know it, the children,

At play on the fuming alkali-tip

Or by the flooded football ground, know it--

This is the dragon's day, the devourer's:

Orders are given to the enemy for a time

With underground proliferation of mould,

With constant whisper and the casual question,

To haunt the poisoned in his shunned house,

To destroy the efflorescence of the flesh,

To censor the play of the mind, to enforce

Conformity with the orthodox bone,

With organised fear, the articulated skeleton.

You whom I gladly walk with, touch,

Or wait for as one certain of good,

We know it, we know that love

Needs more than the admiring excitement of union,

More than the abrupt self-confident farewell,

The heel on the finishing blade of grass,

The self-confidence of the falling root,

Needs death, death of the grain, our death.

Death of the old gang; would leave them

In sullen valley where is made no friend,

The old gang to be forgotten in the spring,

The hard bitch and the riding-master,

Stiff underground; deep in clear lake

The lolling bridegroom, beautiful, there.

October 1929