Showing posts from August, 2017

Musée des Beaux Arts

by 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

O What Is That Sound

By W. H. Auden O what is that sound which so thrills the ear Down in the valley drumming, drumming? Only the scarlet soldiers, dear, The soldiers coming. O what is that light I see flashing so clear Over the distance brightly, brightly? Only the sun on their weapons, dear, As they step lightly. O what are they doing with all that gear, What are they doing this morning, morning? Only their usual manoeuvres, dear, Or perhaps a warning. O why have they left the road down there, Why are they suddenly wheeling, wheeling? Perhaps a change in their orders, dear, Why are you kneeling? O haven't they stopped for the doctor's care, Haven't they reined their horses, horses? Why, they are none of them wounded, dear, None of these forces. O is it the parson they want, with white hair, Is it the parson, is it, is it? No, they are passing his gateway, dear, Without a visit. O it must be the farmer that lives so near. It must be the farmer so cunning, so cunning? They have passed the f

Refugee Blues

Say this city has ten million souls, Some are living in mansions, some are living in holes: Yet there's no place for us, my dear, yet there's no place for us. Once we had a country and we thought it fair, Look in the atlas and you'll find it there: We cannot go there now, my dear, we cannot go there now. In the village churchyard there grows an old yew, Every spring it blossoms anew: Old passports can't do that, my dear, old passports can't do that. The consul banged the table and said, "If you've got no passport you're officially dead": But we are still alive, my dear, but we are still alive. Went to a committee; they offered me a chair; Asked me politely to return next year: But where shall we go to-day, my dear, but where shall we go to-day? Came to a public meeting; the speaker got up and said; "If we let them in, they will steal our daily bread": He was talking of you and me, my dear, he was talking of you

The Shield of Achilles

by W.H. Auden  Frans Floris, Vulcan Fashions the Shield of Achilles (1560) She looked over his shoulder For vines and olive trees, Marble well-governed cities And ships upon untamed seas, But there on the shining metal His hands had put instead An artificial wilderness And a sky like lead. A plain without a feature, bare and brown, No blade of grass, no sign of neighborhood, Nothing to eat and nowhere to sit down, Yet, congregated on its blankness, stood An unintelligible multitude, A million eyes, a million boots in line, Without expression, waiting for a sign. Out of the air a voice without a face Proved by statistics that some cause was just In tones as dry and level as the place: No one was cheered and nothing was discussed; Column by column in a cloud of dust They marched away enduring a belief Whose logic brought them, somewhere else, to grief. She looked over his shoulder For r


by John Updike for Annette our San Francisco neighborhood] O when in San Francisco do As natives do; they sit and stare Amd smile and stare again. The view Is visible from anywhere. Here hills are white with houses whence, Across a multitude of sills, The owners, lucky residents, See other houses, other hills. The meanest San Franciscan knows, No matter what his past has been, There are a thousand patios Whose view he is included in. The Golden Gate, the cable cars, Twin Peaks, the Spreckles habitat. The local ocean, sun and stars-- When fog falls, one admires that. Here homes are stacked in such a way That every picture window has An unmarred prospect of the Bay And, in its center, Alcatraz. 1958

Song of a Self

Lew Welch If this is what life is, Could one of your Gods do it better? I make what I see, and I make what I hear with Eye and my animal eye-- with ear and my Auditing Ear... full full of my gift I am never left out and afraid And this what the song is (all of you waking and working and going to bed) I sing what you'd know if you took time to hear, I know what you'd learn if you had cause to care Envy my wildness if you will.... full full of my gift I am often left out and afraid And this all my art is (that stays at the distance the stage is) You turn from my songs into another's arms, As I, who have taken you all to my heart, Would sometimes be taken to heart.... full full of my gift I am only left out and afraid ______________________________________________ Commentary by the Red Monk Except for things like the Yaws, there is no suffering unless we invent someone to suffer the suffering