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Best Famous Wystan Hugh (W H) Auden Poems

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by Wystan Hugh (W H) Auden | |

August 1968

The Ogre does what ogres can,
Deeds quite impossible for Man,
But one prize is beyond his reach,
The Ogre cannot master Speech:
About a subjugated plain,
Among its desperate and slain,
The Ogre stalks with hands on hips,
While drivel gushes from his lips.


by Wystan Hugh (W H) Auden | |

Voltaire at Ferney

Perfectly happy now, he looked at his estate.
An exile making watches glanced up as he passed And went on working; where a hospital was rising fast, A joiner touched his cap; an agent came to tell Some of the trees he'd planted were progressing well.
The white alps glittered.
It was summer.
He was very great.
Far off in Paris where his enemies Whsipered that he was wicked, in an upright chair A blind old woman longed for death and letters.
He would write, "Nothing is better than life.
" But was it? Yes, the fight Against the false and the unfair Was always worth it.
So was gardening.
Civilize.
Cajoling, scolding, screaming, cleverest of them all, He'd had the other children in a holy war Against the infamous grown-ups; and, like a child, been sly And humble, when there was occassion for The two-faced answer or the plain protective lie, But, patient like a peasant, waited for their fall.
And never doubted, like D'Alembert, he would win: Only Pascal was a great enemy, the rest Were rats already poisoned; there was much, though, to be done, And only himself to count upon.
Dear Diderot was dull but did his best; Rousseau, he'd always known, would blubber and give in.
Night fell and made him think of women: Lust Was one of the great teachers; Pascal was a fool.
How Emilie had loved astronomy and bed; Pimpette had loved him too, like scandal; he was glad.
He'd done his share of weeping for Jerusalem: As a rule, It was the pleasure-haters who became unjust.
Yet, like a sentinel, he could not sleep.
The night was full of wrong, Earthquakes and executions: soon he would be dead, And still all over Europe stood the horrible nurses Itching to boil their children.
Only his verses Perhaps could stop them: He must go on working: Overhead, The uncomplaining stars composed their lucid song.


by Wystan Hugh (W H) Auden | |

Epitaph on a Tyrant

Perfection, of a kind, was what he was after,
And the poetry he invented was easy to understand;
He knew human folly like the back of his hand,
And was greatly interested in armies and fleets;
When he laughed, respectable senators burst with laughter,
And when he cried the little children died in the streets.


More great poems below...

by Wystan Hugh (W H) Auden | |

The Fall of Rome

The piers are pummelled by the waves;
In a lonely field the rain
Lashes an abandoned train;
Outlaws fill the mountain caves.
Fantastic grow the evening gowns;
Agents of the Fisc pursue
Absconding tax-defaulters through
The sewers of provincial towns.
Private rites of magic send
The temple prostitutes to sleep;
All the literati keep
An imaginary friend.
Cerebrotonic Cato may
Extol the Ancient Disciplines,
But the muscle-bound Marines
Mutiny for food and pay.
Caesar's double-bed is warm
As an unimportant clerk
Writes I DO NOT LIKE MY WORK
On a pink official form.
Unendowed with wealth or pity,
Little birds with scarlet legs,
Sitting on their speckled eggs,
Eye each flu-infected city.
Altogether elsewhere, vast
Herds of reindeer move across
Miles and miles of golden moss,
Silently and very fast.


by Wystan Hugh (W H) Auden | |

The More Loving One

Looking up at the stars, I know quite well
That, for all they care, I can go to hell,
But on earth indifference is the least
We have to dread from man or beast.
How should we like it were stars to burn
With a passion for us we could not return?
If equal affection cannot be,
Let the more loving one be me.
Admirer as I think I am
Of stars that do not give a damn,
I cannot, now I see them, say
I missed one terribly all day.
Were all stars to disappear or die,
I should learn to look at an empty sky
And feel its total dark sublime,
Though this might take me a little time.


by Wystan Hugh (W H) Auden | |

The Unknown Citizen

He was found by the Bureau of Statistics to be
One against whom there was no official complaint,
And all the reports on his conduct agree
That, in the modern sense of an old-fashioned word, he was a
saint,
For in everything he did he served the Greater Community.
Except for the War till the day he retired
He worked in a factory and never got fired,
But satisfied his employers, Fudge Motors Inc.
Yet he wasn't a scab or odd in his views,
For his Union reports that he paid his dues,
(Our report on his Union shows it was sound)
And our Social Psychology workers found
That he was popular with his mates and liked a drink.
The Press are convinced that he bought a paper every day
And that his reactions to advertisements were normal in every way.
Policies taken out in his name prove that he was fully insured,
And his Health-card shows he was once in hospital but left it cured.
Both Producers Research and High-Grade Living declare
He was fully sensible to the advantages of the Instalment Plan
And had everything necessary to the Modern Man,
A phonograph, a radio, a car and a frigidaire.
Our researchers into Public Opinion are content
That he held the proper opinions for the time of year;
When there was peace, he was for peace: when there was war, he went.
He was married and added five children to the population,
Which our Eugenist says was the right number for a parent of his
generation.
And our teachers report that he never interfered with their
education.
Was he free? Was he happy? The question is absurd:
Had anything been wrong, we should certainly have heard.