It’s a cold New England night with drops of frigid rain pattering on the roof just outside my window. Outside all is moonless, cloudy, and inky-dark, but inside it’s warm and mellow with a soothing domesticity. What better to do than nurse a bottle of locally-brewed Newport Storm and delve into some Auden? There is a note on the title page for the original owner of this volume that I find touching with a sort of tender anonymity. “To Sharon - with love, John” it reads. I know neither Sharon nor John. I found this copy for free from a box of unwanted books at a popular used-bookstore in Hyde Park, Chicago. There is no indication as to who they are or when that was written. The book was printed in 1979, so it’s possible the note is more than three decades old. In the small, solitary confines of my room I suppose Sharon and John, no matter where they are or if they are even still among the living, are here in this room with me one way or another. I find it comforting to have some company on a night such as this - the ghosts of former poetry readers are always among us. Here’s an excerpt for the evening:

“You whom I gladly walk with, touch,
Or wait for as one certain of good,
We know it, we know that love
Needs more than the abrupt self-confident farewell,
The heel on the finishing blade of grass,
The self-confidence of the falling root,
Needs death, death of the grain, our death,
Death of the old gang; would leave them
In sullen valley where is made no friend,
The old gang to be forgotten in the spring,
The hard bitch and the riding-master,
Stiff underground; deep in clear lake
The lolling bridegroom, beautiful, there.”

- W.H. Auden, “It was Easter as I walked in the public gardens”, 1929

  1. ragpicker-and-poet posted this