Sunday, February 26, 2017

As I Walked Out One Evening by W. H. Auden


As I Walked Out One Evening

As I walked out one evening,
        Walking down Bristol Street,
The crowds upon the pavement
        Were fields of harvest wheat.

And down by the brimming river
        I heard a lover sing
Under an arch of the railway:
        "Love has no ending.

"I'll love you, dear, I'll love you
        Till China and Africa meet
And the river jumps over the mountain
        And the salmon sing in the street.

"I'll love you till the ocean
        Is folded and hung up to dry
And the seven stars go squawking
        Like geese about the sky.

"The years shall run like rabbits
        For in my arms I hold
The Flower of the Ages
        And the first love of the world."

But all the clocks in the city
        Began to whirr and chime:
"O let not Time deceive you,
        You cannot conquer Time.

"In the burrows of the Nightmare
        Where Justice naked is,
Time watches from the shadow
        And coughs when you would kiss.

"In headaches and in worry
        Vaguely life leaks away,
And Time will have his fancy
        To-morrow or to-day.

"Into many a green valley
        Drifts the appalling snow;
Time breaks the threaded dances
        And the diver's brilliant bow.

"O plunge your hands in water,
        Plunge them in up to the wrist;
Stare, stare in the basin
        And wonder what you've missed.

"The glacier knocks in the cupboard,
        The desert sighs in the bed,
And the crack in the tea-cup opens
        A lane to the land of the dead.

"Where the beggars raffle the banknotes
        And the Giant is enchanting to Jack,
And the Lily-white Boy is a Roarer
        And Jill goes down on her back.

"O look, look in the mirror, 
        O look in your distress;
Life remains a blessing
        Although you cannot bless.

"O stand, stand at the window
        As the tears scald and start;
You shall love your crooked neighbour
        With your crooked heart."

It was late, late in the evening,
        The lovers they were gone;
The clocks had ceased their chiming
        And the deep river ran on.

 

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