Doggerel by a Senior Citizen
por W. H. Auden
(for Robert Lederer)
Our earth in 1969
Is not the planet I call mine,
The world, I mean, that gives me strength
To hold off chaos at arm's length.
My Eden landscapes and their climes
Are constructs from Edwardian times,
When bath-rooms took up lots of space,
And, before eating, one said Grace.
The automobile, the aeroplane,
Are useful gadgets, but profane:
The enginry of which I dream
Is moved by water or by steam.
Reason requires that I approve
The light-bulb which I cannot love:
To me more reverence-commanding
A fish-tail burner on the landing.
My family ghosts I fought and routed,
Their values, though, I never doubted:
I thought the Protestant Work-Ethic
Both practical and sympathetic.
When couples played or sang duets,
It was immoral to have debts:
I shall continue till I die
To pay in cash for what I buy.
The Book of Common Prayer we knew
Was that of 1662:
Though with-it sermons may be well,
Liturgical reforms are hell.
Sex was of course -- it always is --
The most enticing of mysteries,
But news-stands did not then supply
Then Speech was mannerly, an Art,
Like learning not to belch or fart:
I cannot settle which is worse,
The Anti-Novel or Free Verse.
Nor are those Ph.D's my kith,
Who dig the symbol and the myth:
I count myself a man of letters
Who writes, or hopes to, for his betters.
Dare any call Permissiveness
An educational success?
Saner those class-rooms which I sat in,
Compelled to study Greek and Latin.
Though I suspect the term is crap,
There is a Generation Gap,
Who is to blame? Those, old or young,
Who will not learn their Mother-Tongue.
But Love, at least, is not a state
Either en vogue or out-of-date,
And I've true friends, I will allow,
To talk and eat with here and now.
Me alienated? Bosh! It's just
As a sworn citizen who must
Skirmish with it that I feel
Most at home with what is Real.
Say this city has ten million souls,
Some are living in mansions, some are living in hol …
Yet there's no place for us, my dear, yet there's n
For what as easy
For what thought small,
For what is well
We made all possible preparations,
Drew up a list of firms,
Constantly revised our calculations
A living-room, the catholic area you
(Thou, rather) and I may enter
without knocking, leave without a bow, confronts
Seated after breakfast
In this white-tiled cabin
Arabs call the House where
You are the town and we are the clock.
We are the guardians of the gate in the rock.
Not as that dream Napoleon, rumour's dread and cent …
Before who's riding all the crowds divide,
Who dedicates a column and withdraws,
Sir, no man's enemy, forgiving all
But will his negative inversion, be prodigal:
Send to us power and light, a sovereign touch
The Hidden Law does not deny
Our laws of probability,
But takes the atom and the star
So an age ended, and its last deliverer died
In bed, grown idle and unhappy; they were safe:
The sudden shadow of a giant's enormous calf
Victor was a little baby,
Into this world he came;
His father took him on his knee and said:
Certainly our city with its byres of poverty down t …
The river's edge, its cathedral, its engines, its d …
Here is the cosmopolitan coo...
They wondered why the fruit had been forbidden:
It taught them nothing new. They hid their pride,
But did not listen much when they were chidden:
When shall we learn, what should be clear as day,
We cannot choose what we are free to love?
Although the mouse we banished yesterday
If it form the one landscape that we, the inconstan …
Are consistently homesick for, this is chiefly
Because it dissolves in water. Mark these...
We, too, had known golden hours
When body and soul were in tune,
Had danced with our true loves
All are limitory, but each has her own
nuance of damage. The elite can dress and decent t …
are ambulant with a single stick, adroit
For us like any other fugitive,
Like the numberless flowers that cannot number
And all the beasts that need not remember,