by W. H. Auden
Suppose he’d listened to the erudite committee,
He would have only found where not to look;
Suppose his terrier when he whistled had obeyed,
It would not have unearthed the buried city;
Suppose he had dismissed the careless maid.
The cryptogram would not have fluttered from the book.
was not I,” he cried as, healthy and astounded,
He stepped across a predecessor’s skull;
nonsense jingle simply came into my head
And left the intellectual Sphinx dumbfounded;
I won the Queen because my hair was red;
The terrible adventure is a little dull.”
Hence Failure’s torment: ‘Was I doomed in any case,
Or would I not have failed had I believed in Grace?”
Yesterday was the coldest day in 25 years in Minneapolis, morning temperature was -27 degrees F. It was a day to stay home and play hooky from responsibilities, make oatmeal for breakfast and soup for lunch. Everyone who lives in warm places who hate the cold, are missing out. There’s nothing like an unexpected snow day to savor sleeping in and having the whole day to yourself to enjoy a bit of indulgent reading and cooking.
We have come to the end of January and the end of the Auden retrospective. If you have ideas on future January residencies, please share them. I will let Auden’s own words take us to the end.
Bowing, for instance, with such old-world grace
To a proper flag in a proper place.
Muttering like ancients as they stump upstairs
Of Mine and His or Ours and Theirs.
Just as if time were what they used to will
When it was gifted with possession still.
Just as if they were wrong
In no more wishing to belong.
No wonder then so many die of grief.
So many are so lonely as they die;
No one has yet believed or liked a lie.
Another time has other lives to live.
To You Simply For what as easy.
For what though small.
For what is well
To you simply
From me I mean
Who goes with who
The bedclothes say
As I and you
Go kissed away,
The data given.
The senses even
Fate is not late.
Nor the speech rewritten,
Nor one word forgotten.
W. H. Auden