Lullaby in the city

Over Christmas break I substituted a couple days at the school I taught at last year. Substituting, in small doses, gives all the joy of teaching and non of the prep work. With the seniors we read this poem by W.H. Auden. I remembered reading a while ago, but I had forgotten how lovely it was. In the notes she left for me, Amanda described it as a “night song for a godless world,” which for whatever reason made me think of this photo that I snapped recently of the pure moon rise over the perpetual DC construction.

 “Lullaby”- WH Auden

Lay your sleeping head, my love,

Human on my faithless arm;

Time and fevers burn away

Individual beauty from

Thoughtful children, and the grave

Proves the child ephemeral:

But in my arms till break of day

Let the living creature lie,

Mortal, guilty, but to me

The entirely beautiful.

Soul and body have no bounds:

To lovers as they lie upon

Her tolerant enchanted slope

In their ordinary swoon,

Grave the vision Venus sends

Of supernatural sympathy,

Universal love and hope;

While an abstract insight wakes

Among the glaciers and the rocks

The hermit’s carnal ecstasy.

Certainty, fidelity

On the stroke of midnight pass

Like vibrations of a bell,

And fashionable madmen raise

Their pedantic boring cry:

Every farthing of the cost,

All the dreaded cards foretell,

Shall be paid, but from this night

Not a whisper, not a thought,

Not a kiss nor look be lost.

Beauty, midnight, vision dies:

Let the winds of dawn that blow

Softly round your dreaming head

Such a day of welcome show

Eye and knocking heart may bless,

Find the mortal world enough;

Noons of dryness find you fed

By the involuntary powers,

Nights of insult let you pass

Watched by every human love.

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2 Responses to Lullaby in the city

  1. bkjergaard says:

    Love Auden. And I wish I would’ve had you as my teacher in high school.

  2. Shannon says:

    This is beautiful, Hannah. Thank you for sharing–I had never read this particular Auden before.

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