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Imagining a faultless love Print E-mail
By W.H. Auden   
Wednesday, 28 May 2014

They were right, my dear, all those voices were right 
And still are; this land is not the sweet home that it looks, 
Nor its peace the historical calm of a site 
Where something was settled once and for all: A back ward 
And dilapidated province, connected 
To the big busy world by a tunnel, with a certain 
Seedy appeal, is that all it is now? Not quite: 
It has a worldy duty which in spite of itself 
It does not neglect, but calls into question 
All the Great Powers assume; it disturbs our rights. The poet, 
Admired for his earnest habit of calling 
The sun the sun, his mind Puzzle, is made uneasy 
By these marble statues which so obviously doubt 
His antimythological myth; and these gamins, 
Pursuing the scientist down the tiled colonnade 
With such lively offers, rebuke his concern for Nature's 
Remotest aspects: I, too, am reproached, for what 
And how much you know. Not to lose time, not to get caught, 
Not to be left behind, not, please! to resemble 
The beasts who repeat themselves, or a thing like water 
Or stone whose conduct can be predicted, these 
Are our common prayer, whose greatest comfort is music 
Which can be made anywhere, is invisible, 
And does not smell. In so far as we have to look forward 
To death as a fact, no doubt we are right: But if 
Sins can be forgiven, if bodies rise from the dead, 
These modifications of matter into 
Innocent athletes and gesticulating fountains, 
Made solely for pleasure, make a further point: 
The blessed will not care what angle they are regarded from, 
Having nothing to hide. Dear, I know nothing of 
Either, but when I try to imagine a faultless love 
Or the life to come, what I hear is the murmur 
Of underground streams, what I see is a limestone landscape.


 

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