W. H. Auden reading a selection of his poetry 1961

W. H. Auden reading a selection of his poetry 1961

this poem is called a journey to Iceland which is kinetically journey I actually made to Iceland but I suppose the theme really is problem of islands in general and who are trusted to islands as a lot of us are and the traveller hopes that may be far from any physician and the ports have names for the sea the city lists the corroding the sorrow a north's means to all reject and the Great Plains of herever where the cold fish is hunted and everywhere the light birds flicker and flaunt under the scouting flag the lover of items may see at last faintly his limited hope as he nears the glitter of glaciers the sterile him at your mountains intense in the abnormal day of this world and a rivers fan like Pali puffs and then let the good citizen here find natural Marvel's a horseshoe ravine an issue esteemed from a cleft in the rock and rocks and waterfalls brushing the rocks and among the rocks birds and the student of prose and conduct places to visit the site of a church where a bishop was put in a bag the bath of a great historian the fort where an outlaw dreaded the dark remember the doomed man thrown by his horse and crying beautiful as the hillside I will not go the old woman confessing he that I loved the best to him I was worst for Europe is absent this is an island and therefore a refuge where the fast affections which dead may be bought by those whose dreams accuse them of being spitefully alive and the pay or from too much passion of kissing fear pure in its deserts can they for the world is and the present and the lie the narrow bridge over the torrent and the small farm under the crown eggh are the natural setting for the jealousies of her province and the weak valor fidelity is formed by the care and within the indigenous figure on horseback on the bridal path down by the lake the blood moves also by crooked and thirty Vinci's asks all our questions where's the homage when shall justice be done oh who is against me why am I always alone now our time has no favorite suburb no local features of those the young for whom all wish to care the promise is only a promise the fabulous country impartial afar tears fall in all the rivers again the driver pulls on his gloves and in a blinding snowstorm starts upon his deadly journey and again the writer runs howling to his art this is a poem called no change of place which is simply about in a sense I suppose about the idea of travel who would endure heat of day and winter danger journey from one place to another nor be content to lie to the evening upon headland over bay between the land and sea or smoking wait till hour of food leaning unchained up gate at edge of wood metals run burnished or rusty in the Sun from town to town and signals all along are down yet nothing passes but envelopes between these places snatched the gate and panting raiding doors and first spring flowers arriving smashed disaster stammered over wires and to pity flashed for should professional traveler come ask to the fireside he is dumb declining with a secret smile and all the while conjectures our Maps grow stranger and threaten danger there is no change of place no one will ever know for what conversion brilliant capital is waiting what ugly feasts may village band be celebrating for no one goes further than railhead or the end of peers will neither go nor send his son further through foothills than the rotting stack where gate had gamekeeper with dog and gun will shout turn back this is a very simple lyric I don't think it needs any comment called one evening as I walked out one evening walking down Bristol Street the crowds upon the pavement were fields of harvest wheat and down by the brimming river I heard a lover sing under an arch of the railway love has no ending I love you dear I love you till China and Africa meet and the river jumps they were the mountain and the salmon sing in the street I love you till the ocean is folded and hung up to dry on the seven stars go squawking like geese about the sky the years shall run like rabbits for in my arms I held the flower of the ages and the first love of the world but all the clocks in the city began to wear and chime oh let not time deceive you you cannot conquer time in the burrows of the nightmare where justice naked is time watches from the shadow and coughs when you would kiss in headaches and in worry vaguely life leaks away and time will have his fancy tomorrow or today into mania green very drifts the appalling snow time breaks Freddie dances and the divers brilliant bow Oh plunge your hands in water plunged them in up to the wrist stare stare in the basin and wonder what you've missed the glacier knocks and the cupboard the desert sighs in the bed and a crack in the teacup opens a lane to the Land of the Dead where the beggars raffle the banknotes and the giant is enchanting to Jack and the lily-white boy is aurora and jill goes down on her back oh look look in the mirror oh look in your distress life remains a blessing although you cannot bless Oh stand stand at the window was the tears scald and stopped you shall love your crooked neighbor with your crooked heart it was late late in the evening the lovers they were gone the clocks had ceased their chiming and the deep river ran on this is just our prime wishes especially about the nature of man wrapped in a gilding air beside the flowers soundless hunger close to the trees clandestine tied close to the birds high fever loud his hope and anger erect about his skeleton stands the expressive lover stands the deliberate man beneath the hot in curious son they're stronger beasts and fairer he picks his way a living gun with gun and lens and Bible a militant Enquirer the friend the rash the enemy the essayist the able able at times to cry the friendless a nun hated stone lies everywhere about him the brother Duan the not alone the brother and the hated whose family have taught him to set against the large and dumb the timeless and the rooted his money and his time for mothers fading hopes become dull wife to his dull spirits soon dull my nurses moral thumb their dullard fond betrayer and childish he inherits too soon by legal father tricked that all impressive tower impressive yes but locked and ruled by dead men never met by pious guests deluded upon the stool of madness set or stool of desolation sits murderous and clear-headed enormous beauties round him move for grand uses his vision and grandiose his love determined on times on his shield the lamb must face the tigress their faithful quarrel never healed though faithless he consider his dream of Vega ages hunter and victim reconciled the lion and the adder the adder and the child fresh love's betray him every day over his green horizon a fresh desert her rides away and miles away birds mutter of ambush and of treason the fresh defeats he still must move to further grief and greater and the defeat of grief this poem I think is self-explanatory it's got reflections in a forest within a shadow land of trees whose lives are so uprightly led in nude August communities to move about seems underbred uncommon any taste for word when thoughtlessly they took the song whatever one may think of birds the example of they said was wrong in keeping still in staying slow for posture and for social ease how much these living statues oh they are sentient color languages the who can quarrel without terms for not or never who can raise objections when what one affirms is necessarily the case but trees are trees an El Morro call ready both outside and in and cannot therefore counsel folk who have their unit here to win turn all trees signals into speech and what comes out is a command keep running if you want to reach the point of knowing where you stand a truth at which one should arrive forbids immediate utterance and tongues to speak it must contrive to tell two different lies at once my chance of growing would be slim where I with wooden honesty to show my hand or heart to him who willed if I should lose be me our race would not have gotten far had me not learn to bluff it out and look more certain than we are of what our motion is about nor need one be a cop to find undressing before others ruled the most ascetic of our kind look naked in the buff not nude this is called there will be no peace though mild clear weather smile again on the shia of your esteem and its colours come back the storm has changed you you will not forget ever the darkness blocking out hope the gale prophesying your downfall you must live with your knowledge way back beyond outside of you are others in moonless absences you never heard of who have certainly heard of you beings are unknown number and gender and they do not like you what have you done to them nothing nothing is not an answer you will come to believe how can you help it but you did you did do something you will find yourself wishing you could make them laugh you were long for their friendship there will be no peace fight back then with such courage as you have and every unchivalrous dodge you know of clearing your conscience on this there cause if they had one is nothing to them now they hate for hates sake

7 thoughts on “W. H. Auden reading a selection of his poetry 1961

  1. So much beauty, so much intellect, so much fine language, so much love of mankind, all from a man who looked like a pile of old clothes or an unmade bed. He said of his own face that it looked like a wedding cake that had been left out in the rain. I have been inspired and moved by his poetry since childhood.

  2. the booming of stolen thunder. one of the greats. stranger and stranger. the hum, the pull, the discourse, between bird and tree, and tree and dog, and the smile of dying certainty. there is a wonderful stiff arm embrace with Auden. he pulls you in, and then shoves you into a chair by the fire, as if he may need you, for when the logs run out. we are always alone in Auden, the lovers are always leaving, and we are always holding a coat at a door, and ponder the unseen clocks that cat yawn in every direction, leaving us in mute desolation of purpose's trunk full of meaning. you don't wander in Auden, you don't learn anything, you are just changed by nibbles and long drawn out sticky lightning, that hangs like spiderwebs, all about the cramped rooms of tweed and damp. he is wonderfully obscure, behind his linear measured progression. in the same way a pit viper sets its limits of embrace, bite by bite by bite.

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