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Eveline Lubbers on Mon, 17 Sep 2001 22:00:25 +0200 (CEST)

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From:           	dhalleck <dhalleck {AT} weber.ucsd.edu>


       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 odour of death
                  Offends the September night.

                  Accurate scholarship can
                  Unearth the whole offence
                  From Luther until now
                  That has driven a culture mad,
                  Find what occurred at Linz,
                  What huge imago made
                  A psychopathic god:
                  I and the public know
                  What all schoolchildren learn,
                  Those to whom evil is done
                  Do evil in return.

                  Exiled Thucydides knew
                  All that a speech can say
                  About Democracy,
                  And what dictators do,
                  The elderly rubbish they talk
                  To an apathetic grave;
                  Analysed all in his book,
                  The enlightenment driven away,
                  The habit-forming pain,
                  Mismanagement and grief:
                  We must suffer them all again.

                  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:
                  But who can live for long
                  In an euphoric dream;
                  Out of the mirror they stare,
                  Imperialism's face
                  And the international wrong.

                  Faces along the bar
                  Cling to their average day:
                  The lights must never go out,
                  The music must always play,
                  All the conventions conspire
                  To make this fort assume
                  The furniture of home;
                  Lest we should see where we are,
                  Lost in a haunted wood,
                  Children afraid of the night
                  Who have never been happy or good.

                  The windiest militant trash
                  Important Persons shout
                  Is not so crude as our wish:
                  What mad Nijinsky wrote
                  About Diaghilev
                  Is true of the normal heart;
                  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.

                  From the conservative dark
                  Into the ethical life
                  The dense commuters come,
                  Repeating their morning vow;
                  'I will be true to the wife,
                  I'll concentrate more on my work,'
                  And helpless governors wake
                  To resume their compulsory game:
                  Who can release them now,
                  Who can reach the dead,
                  Who can speak for the dumb?

                  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.

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