Thanksgiving for a Habitat

Nobody I know would like to be buried
   with a silver cocktail-shaker,
   a transistor radio and a strangled
   daily help, or keep his word because
   of a great-great-grandmother who got laid
   by a sacred beast. Only a press lord
   could have built San Simeon: no unearned income
   can buy us back the gait and gestures
   to manage a baroque staircase, or the art
   of believing footmen don’t hear
   human speech. (In adulterine castles
   our half-strong might hang their jackets
   while mending their lethal bicycle-chains:
   luckily, there are not enough
   crags to go round.) Still, Hetty Pegler’s Tump
   is worth a visit, so is Schönbrunn,
   to look at someone’s idea of the body
   that should have been his, as the flesh
   Mum formulated shouldn’t: that whatever
   he does or feels in the mood for,
   stock-taking, horse-play, worship, making love,
   he stays the same shape, disgraces
   a Royal I. To be over-admired is not
   good enough: although a fine figure
   is rare in either sex, others like it
   have existed before. One may
   be a Proustian snob or a sound Jacksonian
   democrat, but which of us wants
   to be touched inadvertently, even
   by his beloved? We know all about graphs
   and Darwin, enormous rooms no longer
   superhumanise, but earnest
   city-planners are mistaken: a pen
   for a rational animal
   is no fitting habitat for Adam’s
   sovereign clone. I, a transplant
   from overseas, at last am dominant
   over three acres and a blooming
   conurbation of country lives, few of whom
   I shall ever meet, and with fewer
   converse. Linnaeus recoiled from the Amphibia
   as a naked gruesome rabble,
   Arachnids give me the shudders, but fools
   who deface their emblem of guilt
   are germane to Hitler: the race of spiders
   shall be allowed their webs. I should like
   to be to my water-brethren as a spell
   of fine weather: Many are stupid,
   and some, maybe, are heartless, but who is not
   vulnerable, easy to scare,
   and jealous of his privacy? (I am glad
   the blackbird, for instance, cannot
   tell if I’m talking English, German or
   just typewriting: that what he utters
   I may enjoy as an alien rigmarole.) I ought
   to outlast the limber dragonflies
   as the muscle-bound firs are certainly
   going to outlast me: I shall not end
   down any oesophagus, though I may succumb
   to a filter-passing predator,
   shall, anyhow, stop eating, surrender my smidge
   of nitrogen to the World Fund
   with a drawn-out Oh (unless at the nod
   of some jittery commander
   I be translated in a nano-second
   to a c.c. of poisonous nothing
   in a giga-death). Should conventional
   blunderbuss war and its routiers
   invest my bailiwick, I shall of course
   assume the submissive posture:
   but men are not wolves and it probably
   won’t help. Territory, status,
   and love, sing all the birds, are what matter:
   what I dared not hope or fight for
   is, in my fifties, mine, a toft-and-croft
   where I needn’t, ever, be at home to
   those I am not at home with, not a cradle,
   a magic Eden without clocks,
   and not a windowless grave, but a place
   I may go both in and out of.
Autres oeuvres par W. H. Auden...