Tag Archives: W.H. Auden

Some Untidy Spot

Landscape with fall of Icarus

Musee des Beaux Arts

W. H. Auden

 

About suffering they were never wrong,

The old Masters: how well they understood

Its human position: how it takes place

While someone else is eating or opening a window or just walking dully along;

How, when the aged are reverently, passionately waiting

For the miraculous birth, there always must be

Children who did not specially want it to happen, skating

On a pond at the edge of the wood:

They never forgot

That even the 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.

 

 

In Breughel’s Icarus, for instance: how everything turns away

Quite leisurely from the disaster; the ploughman may

Have heard the splash, the forsaken cry,

But for him it was not an important failure; the sun shone

As it had to on the white legs disappearing into the green

Water, and the expensive delicate ship that must have seen

Something amazing, a boy falling out of the sky,

Had somewhere to get to and sailed calmly on.

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I shall do nothing but look at the sky

Roman Wall Blues

W.H. Auden

 

Over the heather the wet wind blows,

I’ve lice in my tunic and a cold in my nose.

 

The rain comes pattering out of the sky,

I’m a Wall soldier, I don’t know why.

 

The mist creeps over the hard grey stone,

My girl’s in Tungria; I sleep alone.

 

Aulus goes hanging around her place,

I don’t like his manners, I don’t like his face.

 

Piso’s a Christian, he worships a fish;

There’d be no kissing if he had his wish.

 

She gave me a ring but I diced it away;

I want my girl and I want my pay.

 

When I’m a veteran with only one eye

I shall do nothing but look at the sky.

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Filed under Historical Facts and Trivia, Poetry