mjj (flemmings) wrote,
mjj
flemmings

Yes I am posting an elegy on Valentine's Day. Liebestod: deal. I'd have posted it Monday but someone mistakenly walked off with the backpack the (newly purchased) book was in and I thought it gone for good. Along with my credit cards and other stuff. But now I have my backpack back I'm putting this poem here for safe-keeping, because I've waited over ten years to have it in my possession.

For W.H. Auden

    Now I am surer where they were going,
The brakie loping the tops of the moving freight,
The beautiful girls in their outboard, waving to someone
As the stern dug in and the wake pleated the water,

    The uniformed children led by a nun
Through the terminal's uproar, the clew-drawn scholar descending
The cast-iron stairs of the stacks, shuffling his papers,
The Indians, two to a blanket, passing in darkness,

    Also the German prisoner switching
His dusty neck as the truck backfired and started--
Of all these noted in stride and detained in memory
I now know better that they were going to die,

    Since you, who sustained the civil tongue
In a scattering time, and were poet of all our cities,
Have for all your clever difference quietly left us,
As we might have known that you would, by that common door.

First read this in Wilbur's New and Collected Poems in Kinokuniya in Tokyo a dozen years back. Hardcover, English book, appalling exchange rate- cost about $60 and I couldn't afford it. Found it over here when I came back for half that but still couldn't afford it. Found the paperback on Monday and now I have it, and the poem is here.
Tags: verse
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