1939 to 2006 – no so very different

It seems that 1939 is not so far away. Did I mention that I love Auden? Enjoy.

From the poem entitled September 1, 1939

W.H. Auden

I sit in one of the dives
On Fifty-second Street
Uncertain and afraid
As the clever hopes expire
Of a low dishonest decade:
Waves of anger and fear
Circulate over the bright
And darkened lands of the earth,
Obsessing our private lives;
The unmentionable odor of death
Offends the September night.

Into this neutral air
Where blind skyscrapers use
Their full height to proclaim
The strength of Collective Man,
Each language pours its vain
Competitive excuse…

The windiest militant trash
Important Persons shout
Is not so crude as our wish: …
For the error bred in the bone
Of each woman and each man
Craves what it cannot have,
Not universal love
But to be loved alone.

I and the public know
What all schoolchildren learn,
Those to whom evil is done
Do evil in return.

All I have is a voice
To undo the folded lie,
The romantic lie in the brain
Of the sensual man-in-the-street
And the lie of Authority
Whose buildings grope the sky:
There is no such thing as the State
And no one exists alone;
Hunger allows no choice
To the citizen or the police;
We must love one another or die

Defenseless under the night
Our world in stupor lies;
Yet, dotted everywhere,
Ironic points of light
Flash out wherever the Just
Exchange their messages:
May I, composed like them
Of Eros and of dust,
Beleaguered by the same
Negation and despair,
Show an affirming flame.

One thought on “1939 to 2006 – no so very different

  1. Zenbee says:

    This could have been written today, except for the fact that we are just 6 years into the decade. I love the rythm, and the fact that this speaks to love being the thread that binds us all, the answer to the questions asked, and those left unspoken.

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