Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Danse Macabre by W. H. Auden


Danse Macabre

It`s farewell to the drawing-room`s civilized cry, 
The professor`s sensible whereto and why, 
The frock-coated diplomat`s aplomb, 
Now matters are settled with gas and with bomb.  

The works for two pianos, the brilliant stories, 
Of reasonable giants and remarkable fairies, 
The pictures, the ointments, the frangible wares 
And the branches of olive are stored upstairs.  

For the Devil has broken parole and arisen, 
He has dynamited his way out of prison, 
Out of the well where his Papa throws 
The rebel angel, outcast rose.  

Like influenza he walks abroad, 
He stands by the bridge, he waits by the ford, 
As a goose or a gull he flies overhead, 
He hides in the cupboard and under the bed.  

Assuming such shapes as may best disguise 
The hate that burns in his big blue eyes; 
It may be a baby that croons in its pram, 
Or a dear old grannie boarding a tram.  

A plumber, a doctor, for he has skill 
To adopt a serious profession at will; 
Superb at ice-hockey, a prince at the dance, 
He`s fierce as a tiger, secretive as a plants.  

O were he to triumph, dear heart, you know 
To what depths of shame he would drag you low; 
He would steal you away from me, yes, my dear, 
He would steal you and cut off your beautiful hair.  

Millions already have come to their harm, 
Succumbing like doves to his adder`s charm; 
Hundreds of trees in the world are unsound: 
I`m the axe that must cut them down to the ground.  

For I, after all, am Fortunate One, 
The Happy-Go-Lucky, the spoiled Third Son; 
For me it is written the Devil to chase 
And to rid the earth of the human race.  

The behaving of man is world of horror, 
A sedentary Sodom and slick Gomorrah; 
I must take charge of the liquid fire 
And storm the cities of human desire.  

The buying and selling, the eating and drinking, 
The disloyal machines and irreverent thinking, 
The lovely dullards again and again 
Inspiring their better ambitions men.  

I shall come, I shall punish, the Devil be dead, 
I shall have caviar thick on my bread, 
I shall build myself a cathedral for home 
With a vacuum-cleaner in every room.  

I shall ride the parade in platinum car, 
My feature shall shine, my name shall be Star,
Day-long and night-long the bell I shall peal, 
And down the long street I shall turn the cartwheel.  

So Little John, Long John, Peter and Paul, 
And poor little Horace with only ball, 
You shall leave your breakfast, your desk and your play 
On a fine summer morning the Devil to slay.   

For it`s order and trumpet and anger and drum 
And power and glory command you to come; 
The graves shall fly open and let you all in, 
And the earth shall be emptied of mortal sin.  

The fishes are silent deep in the sea, 
The sky are lit up like a Christmas tree, 
The star in the West shoots its warning cry: 
«Mankind is alive, but mankind must die».  

So good-bye to the house with its wallpaper red, 
Good-bye to the sheets on the warm double bed, 
Good-bye the beautiful birds on the wall,  
It`s good-bye, dear heart, good-bye to you all.


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