W.H. Auden. Brussels in Winter

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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.


Brussels in Winter


Wandering through cold streets tangled likeold string,

Coming on fountains rigid in the frost,

Its formula escapes you; it has lost

The certainty that constitutes a thing.


Only the old, the hungry and the humbled

Keep at this temperature a sense of place,

And in their misery are all assembled;

The winter holds them like an Opera-House.


Ridges of rich apartments loom to-night

Where isolated windows glow like farms,

A phrase goes packed with meaning like avan,


A look contains the history of man,

And fifty francs will earn a stranger right

To take the shuddering city in his arms




Funeral Blues


Stop all the clocks, cut off the telephone,

Prevent the dog from barking with a juicy bone,

Silence the pianos and with muffled drum

Bring out the coffin, let the mourners come.


Let aeroplanes circle moaning overhead

Scribbling on the sky the message He Is Dead.

Put crepe bows round the white necks of public doves,

Let the traffic policemen wear black cotton gloves.


He was my North, my South, my East and West.

My working week and my Sunday rest, 

My noon, my midnight, my talk, my song;

I thought that love would last forever; I was wrong.


The stars are not wanted now: put out every one;

Pack up the moon and dismantle the sun;

Pour away the ocean and sweep up the wood;

For nothing now can ever come to any good.


W. H. Auden.Musee des Beaux Arts


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