Poem a Day 2014: From Yeats to Auden, Eliot, Brodsky, Walcott, and Heaney (#5)

Stephen Metcalf, Slate critic-at-large, endorsed this article from the LA Review of Books: “Mourning Tongues: How Auden was Modified Through the Guts of the Living,” by Nina Martyris (endorsement here, minute 39:06). While the article is a fascinating look at “one of the most extraordinary elegiac conversations of our time,” connecting Auden to T.S. Eliot, Joseph Brodsky, Derek Walcott, and Seamus Heaney, for me it did the basic job of reminding me of Auden’s great elegy to W.B. Yeats. The text included in this post is from Poets.org, and you can find a recording of Auden reading his own poem here:

Via theparisreview.org/blog/tag/w-h-auden/

Via theparisreview.org/blog/tag/w-h-auden/

In Memory of W. B. Yeats

by W. H. Auden

I

He disappeared in the dead of winter:                                                                                          The brooks were frozen, the airports almost deserted,                                                              And snow disfigured the public statues;                                                                                       The mercury sank in the mouth of the dying day.                                                                   What instruments we have agree                                                                                                    The day of his death was a dark cold day.

Far from his illness                                                                                                                            The wolves ran on through the evergreen forests,                                                                         The peasant river was untempted by the fashionable quays;                                                     By mourning tongues                                                                                                                        The death of the poet was kept from his poems.

But for him it was his last afternoon as himself,                                                                           An afternoon of nurses and rumours;                                                                                            The provinces of his body revolted,                                                                                                The squares of his mind were empty,                                                                                        Silence invaded the suburbs,                                                                                                           The current of his feeling failed; he became his admirers.

Now he is scattered among a hundred cities                                                                               And wholly given over to unfamiliar affections,                                                                             To find his happiness in another kind of wood                                                                           And be punished under a foreign code of conscience.                                                               The words of a dead man                                                                                                                  Are modified in the guts of the living.

But in the importance and noise of to-morrow                                                                           When the brokers are roaring like beasts on the floor of the Bourse,                                      And the poor have the sufferings to which they are fairly accustomed,                                 And each in the cell of himself is almost convinced of his freedom,                                           A few thousand will think of this day                                                                                               As one thinks of a day when one did something slightly unusual.

What instruments we have agree                                                                                                   The day of his death was a dark cold day.

 

II

You were silly like us; your gift survived it all:                                                                             The parish of rich women, physical decay,                                                                               Yourself. Mad Ireland hurt you into poetry.                                                                                Now Ireland has her madness and her weather still,                                                                  For poetry makes nothing happen: it survives                                                                               In the valley of its making where executives                                                                                Would never want to tamper, flows on south                                                                           From ranches of isolation and the busy griefs,                                                                           Raw towns that we believe and die in; it survives,                                                                          A way of happening, a mouth.

 

III

Earth, receive an honoured guest:                                                                                          William Yeats is laid to rest.                                                                                                             Let the Irish vessel lie                                                                                                                     Emptied of its poetry.

In the nightmare of the dark                                                                                                             All the dogs of Europe bark,                                                                                                            And the living nations wait,                                                                                                            Each sequestered in its hate;

Intellectual disgrace                                                                                                                        Stares from every human face,                                                                                                        And the seas of pity lie                                                                                                                Locked and frozen in each eye.

Follow, poet, follow right                                                                                                                    To the bottom of the night,                                                                                                             With your unconstraining voice                                                                                                     Still persuade us to rejoice;

With the farming of a verse                                                                                                            Make a vineyard of the curse,                                                                                                              Sing of human unsuccess                                                                                                                    In a rapture of distress;

In the deserts of the heart                                                                                                                 Let the healing fountain start,                                                                                                            In the prison of his days                                                                                                                Teach the free man how to praise.

NPM from feministing

And t

I

He disappeared in the dead of winter:
The brooks were frozen, the airports almost deserted,
And snow disfigured the public statues;
The mercury sank in the mouth of the dying day.
What instruments we have agree 
The day of his death was a dark cold day.

Far from his illness
The wolves ran on through the evergreen forests,
The peasant river was untempted by the fashionable quays;
By mourning tongues
The death of the poet was kept from his poems.

But for him it was his last afternoon as himself,
An afternoon of nurses and rumours;
The provinces of his body revolted,
The squares of his mind were empty,
Silence invaded the suburbs,
The current of his feeling failed; he became his admirers.

Now he is scattered among a hundred cities
And wholly given over to unfamiliar affections,
To find his happiness in another kind of wood
And be punished under a foreign code of conscience.
The words of a dead man
Are modified in the guts of the living.

But in the importance and noise of to-morrow
When the brokers are roaring like beasts on the floor of the Bourse,
And the poor have the sufferings to which they are fairly accustomed,
And each in the cell of himself is almost convinced of his freedom,
A few thousand will think of this day
As one thinks of a day when one did something slightly unusual.

What instruments we have agree
The day of his death was a dark cold day.

 

II

     You were silly like us; your gift survived it all:
     The parish of rich women, physical decay,
     Yourself. Mad Ireland hurt you into poetry.
     Now Ireland has her madness and her weather still,
     For poetry makes nothing happen: it survives
     In the valley of its making where executives
     Would never want to tamper, flows on south
     From ranches of isolation and the busy griefs,
     Raw towns that we believe and die in; it survives,
     A way of happening, a mouth.


III

          Earth, receive an honoured guest:
          William Yeats is laid to rest.
          Let the Irish vessel lie
          Emptied of its poetry.

          In the nightmare of the dark
          All the dogs of Europe bark,
          And the living nations wait,
          Each sequestered in its hate;

          Intellectual disgrace
          Stares from every human face,
          And the seas of pity lie
          Locked and frozen in each eye.

          Follow, poet, follow right
          To the bottom of the night,
          With your unconstraining voice
          Still persuade us to rejoice;

          With the farming of a verse
          Make a vineyard of the curse,
          Sing of human unsuccess
          In a rapture of distress;

          In the deserts of the heart
          Let the healing fountain start,
          In the prison of his days
          Teach the free man how to praise.

– See more at: http://www.poets.org/viewmedia.php/prmMID/15544#sthash.uob4wjGc.dpuf

In Memory of W. B. Yeats

by W. H. Auden
I

He disappeared in the dead of winter:
The brooks were frozen, the airports almost deserted,
And snow disfigured the public statues;
The mercury sank in the mouth of the dying day.
What instruments we have agree 
The day of his death was a dark cold day.

Far from his illness
The wolves ran on through the evergreen forests,
The peasant river was untempted by the fashionable quays;
By mourning tongues
The death of the poet was kept from his poems.

But for him it was his last afternoon as himself,
An afternoon of nurses and rumours;
The provinces of his body revolted,
The squares of his mind were empty,
Silence invaded the suburbs,
The current of his feeling failed; he became his admirers.

Now he is scattered among a hundred cities
And wholly given over to unfamiliar affections,
To find his happiness in another kind of wood
And be punished under a foreign code of conscience.
The words of a dead man
Are modified in the guts of the living.

But in the importance and noise of to-morrow
When the brokers are roaring like beasts on the floor of the Bourse,
And the poor have the sufferings to which they are fairly accustomed,
And each in the cell of himself is almost convinced of his freedom,
A few thousand will think of this day
As one thinks of a day when one did something slightly unusual.

What instruments we have agree
The day of his death was a dark cold day.

II

     You were silly like us; your gift survived it all:
     The parish of rich women, physical decay,
     Yourself. Mad Ireland hurt you into poetry.
     Now Ireland has her madness and her weather still,
     For poetry makes nothing happen: it survives
     In the valley of its making where executives
     Would never want to tamper, flows on south
     From ranches of isolation and the busy griefs,
     Raw towns that we believe and die in; it survives,
     A way of happening, a mouth.


III

          Earth, receive an honoured guest:
          William Yeats is laid to rest.
          Let the Irish vessel lie
          Emptied of its poetry.

          In the nightmare of the dark
          All the dogs of Europe bark,
          And the living nations wait,
          Each sequestered in its hate;

          Intellectual disgrace
          Stares from every human face,
          And the seas of pity lie
          Locked and frozen in each eye.

          Follow, poet, follow right
          To the bottom of the night,
          With your unconstraining voice
          Still persuade us to rejoice;

          With the farming of a verse
          Make a vineyard of the curse,
          Sing of human unsuccess
          In a rapture of distress;

          In the deserts of the heart
          Let the healing fountain start,
          In the prison of his days
          Teach the free man how to praise.

– See more at: http://www.poets.org/viewmedia.php/prmMID/15544#sthash.uob4wjGc.dpuf

In Memory of W. B. Yeats

by W. H. Auden
I

He disappeared in the dead of winter:
The brooks were frozen, the airports almost deserted,
And snow disfigured the public statues;
The mercury sank in the mouth of the dying day.
What instruments we have agree 
The day of his death was a dark cold day.

Far from his illness
The wolves ran on through the evergreen forests,
The peasant river was untempted by the fashionable quays;
By mourning tongues
The death of the poet was kept from his poems.

But for him it was his last afternoon as himself,
An afternoon of nurses and rumours;
The provinces of his body revolted,
The squares of his mind were empty,
Silence invaded the suburbs,
The current of his feeling failed; he became his admirers.

Now he is scattered among a hundred cities
And wholly given over to unfamiliar affections,
To find his happiness in another kind of wood
And be punished under a foreign code of conscience.
The words of a dead man
Are modified in the guts of the living.

But in the importance and noise of to-morrow
When the brokers are roaring like beasts on the floor of the Bourse,
And the poor have the sufferings to which they are fairly accustomed,
And each in the cell of himself is almost convinced of his freedom,
A few thousand will think of this day
As one thinks of a day when one did something slightly unusual.

What instruments we have agree
The day of his death was a dark cold day.

II

     You were silly like us; your gift survived it all:
     The parish of rich women, physical decay,
     Yourself. Mad Ireland hurt you into poetry.
     Now Ireland has her madness and her weather still,
     For poetry makes nothing happen: it survives
     In the valley of its making where executives
     Would never want to tamper, flows on south
     From ranches of isolation and the busy griefs,
     Raw towns that we believe and die in; it survives,
     A way of happening, a mouth.


III

          Earth, receive an honoured guest:
          William Yeats is laid to rest.
          Let the Irish vessel lie
          Emptied of its poetry.

          In the nightmare of the dark
          All the dogs of Europe bark,
          And the living nations wait,
          Each sequestered in its hate;

          Intellectual disgrace
          Stares from every human face,
          And the seas of pity lie
          Locked and frozen in each eye.

          Follow, poet, follow right
          To the bottom of the night,
          With your unconstraining voice
          Still persuade us to rejoice;

          With the farming of a verse
          Make a vineyard of the curse,
          Sing of human unsuccess
          In a rapture of distress;

          In the deserts of the heart
          Let the healing fountain start,
          In the prison of his days
          Teach the free man how to praise.

– See more at: http://www.poets.org/viewmedia.php/prmMID/15544#sthash.uob4wjGc.dpuf

In Memory of W. B. Yeats

by W. H. Auden
I

He disappeared in the dead of winter:
The brooks were frozen, the airports almost deserted,
And snow disfigured the public statues;
The mercury sank in the mouth of the dying day.
What instruments we have agree 
The day of his death was a dark cold day.

Far from his illness
The wolves ran on through the evergreen forests,
The peasant river was untempted by the fashionable quays;
By mourning tongues
The death of the poet was kept from his poems.

But for him it was his last afternoon as himself,
An afternoon of nurses and rumours;
The provinces of his body revolted,
The squares of his mind were empty,
Silence invaded the suburbs,
The current of his feeling failed; he became his admirers.

Now he is scattered among a hundred cities
And wholly given over to unfamiliar affections,
To find his happiness in another kind of wood
And be punished under a foreign code of conscience.
The words of a dead man
Are modified in the guts of the living.

But in the importance and noise of to-morrow
When the brokers are roaring like beasts on the floor of the Bourse,
And the poor have the sufferings to which they are fairly accustomed,
And each in the cell of himself is almost convinced of his freedom,
A few thousand will think of this day
As one thinks of a day when one did something slightly unusual.

What instruments we have agree
The day of his death was a dark cold day.

 

II

     You were silly like us; your gift survived it all:
     The parish of rich women, physical decay,
     Yourself. Mad Ireland hurt you into poetry.
     Now Ireland has her madness and her weather still,
     For poetry makes nothing happen: it survives
     In the valley of its making where executives
     Would never want to tamper, flows on south
     From ranches of isolation and the busy griefs,
     Raw towns that we believe and die in; it survives,
     A way of happening, a mouth.


III

          Earth, receive an honoured guest:
          William Yeats is laid to rest.
          Let the Irish vessel lie
          Emptied of its poetry.

          In the nightmare of the dark
          All the dogs of Europe bark,
          And the living nations wait,
          Each sequestered in its hate;

          Intellectual disgrace
          Stares from every human face,
          And the seas of pity lie
          Locked and frozen in each eye.

          Follow, poet, follow right
          To the bottom of the night,
          With your unconstraining voice
          Still persuade us to rejoice;

          With the farming of a verse
          Make a vineyard of the curse,
          Sing of human unsuccess
          In a rapture of distress;

          In the deserts of the heart
          Let the healing fountain start,
          In the prison of his days
          Teach the free man how to praise.

– See more at: http://www.poets.org/viewmedia.php/prmMID/15544#sthash.uob4wjGc.dpuf

Advertisements
This entry was posted in Literature, National Poetry Month and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s