The palm extended in welcome:
Look! for you
I have unclenched my fist.
“I am the most important
Person at present.”
The sane remember to add:
“important, I mean, to me.”
True Love enjoys
but talks like a myopic.
Once having shat
in his new apartment,
he began to feel at home.
When Chiefs of State
prefer to work at night,
let the citizens beware.
1965 – 1968
“I know only two things. The first is this: There is no such thing as time.” He explained that time was an illusion: past, present, future. Eternity was “without a beginning or an end,” and we must come to terms with what underlies time, or exists around its edges. He quoted the Gospel of John, where Jesus said: “Before Abraham was, I am.” That disjunctive remark upends our notions of chronology once and for all, he told me.
I listened, a bit puzzled, then asked: “So what’s the second thing?”
“Ah, that,” he said. “The second thing is simply advice. Rest in God, dear boy. Rest in God.”
Auden’s two points of wisdom have taken decades to absorb. He was telling me, I think, that our frantic search for meaning in the calendar and clock — the race against time — is foolish in the context of a larger universe or God’s eternity (one can define “God” in so many different ways). “Ridiculous the waste sad time,” wrote T. S. Eliot, urging us toward “the still point of the turning world.”
What W.H. Auden taught me about Easter, God and surviving a season of Covid-19
Every autobiography is concerned with two characters, a Don Quixote, the Ego, and a Sancho Panza, the Self.
“Hic et Ille”, p. 96
In societies with fewer opportunities for amusement, it was also easier to tell a mere wish from a real desire. If, in order to hear some music, a man has to wait for six months and then walk twenty miles, it is easy to tell whether the words, “I should like to hear some music,” mean what they appear to mean, or merely, “At this moment I should like to forget myself.” When all he has to do is press a switch, it is more difficult. He may easily come to believe that wishes can come true.
Interlude: West’s Disease”, p. 245
The surest sign that a man has a genuine taste of his own is that he is uncertain of it.
“Reading”, p. 6
The poet who writes “free” verse is like Robinson Crusoe on his desert island: he must do all his cooking, laundry and darning for himself. In a few exceptional cases, this manly independence produces something original and impressive, but more often the result is squalor — dirty sheets on the unmade bed and empty bottles on the unswept floor.
“Writing”, p. 22
A vice in common can be the ground of a friendship but not a virtue in common. X and Y may be friends because they are both drunkards or womanizers but, if they are both sober and chaste, they are friends for some other reason.
“Don Juan”, p. 403
No opera plot can be sensible, for people do not sing when they are feeling sensible.
“Notes on Music and Opera”, p. 472
Not sure of the provenance of this quote, but it was the epigraph of the book, On Grief and Reason, by Joseph Brodsky.
This can be found in the section, Shorts II, in the COLLECTED POEMS: