October 1, 2017


into this neutral air
where blind skyscrapers use
their full height to proclaim
the strength of collective man, 
each language pours its vain
competitive excuse

faces along the bar
cling to their average day:
the lights must never go out,
the music must always play,
all the conventions conspire
to make this fort assume
the furniture of home;
lest we should see where we are, 
lost in a haunted wood,
children afraid of the night
who have never been happy or good

the windiest militant trash
important persons shout
is not so crude as our wish: 
what mad nijinsky wrote
about diaghilev
is true of the normal heart; 
for the error bred in the bone
of each woman and each man
craves what it cannot have, 
not universal love
but to be loved alone

no one exists alone;
we must love one another or die

defenseless under the night
our world in stupor lies;
yet, dotted everywhere,
ironic points of light
flash out wherever the just
exchange their messages:
may i, composed like them
of eros and of dust,
beleaguered by the same
negation and despair,
show an affirming flame


2 Responses to “October 1, 2017”

  1. 1 janis October 3, 2017 at 7:15 pm

    Thank you for this abbrieviated and full poem by Auden. It touches the essence of the matter in such a solemnly beautiful way.

    • 2 bluenred October 9, 2017 at 2:01 pm

      There isn’t a way to make it okay. There isn’t a nice neat box to put it in: “this explains it.” There is no “political” solution. There is only: love another, or die.

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