WH Auden recites “Doggerel by a Senior Citizen” 1969

WH Auden recites “Doggerel by a Senior Citizen” 1969

Our earth in nineteen sixty nine Is not the planet I call mine, The world, I mean, that gives me strength To hold off chaos at arm’s length. My Eden landscapes and their climes Are constructs from Edwardian times, When bath-rooms took up lots of space, And, before eating, one said Grace. The automobile, the aeroplane, Are useful gadgets, but profane: The enginry of which I dream Is moved by water or by steam. Reason requires that I approve The light-bulb which I cannot love: To me more reverence-commanding A fish-tail burner on the landing. My family ghosts I fought and routed, Their values, though, I never doubted: I thought the Protestant Work-Ethic Both practical and sympathetic. When couples played or sang duets, It was immoral to have debts: I shall continue till I die To pay in cash for what I buy. The Book of Common Prayer we knew Was that of 1662: Though with-it sermons may be well, Liturgical reforms are hell. Sex was of course – it always is – The most enticing of mysteries, But news-stands did not then supply Manichean pornography. Then Speech was mannerly, an Art, Like learning not to belch or fart: I cannot settle which is worse, The Anti-Novel or Free Verse. Nor are those Ph.D’s my kith, Who dig the symbol and the myth: I count myself a man of letters Who writes, or hopes to, for his betters. Dare any call Permissiveness An educational success? Saner those class-rooms which I sat in, Compelled to study Greek and Latin. Though I suspect the term is crap, If there is a Generation Gap, Who is to blame? Those, old or young, Who will not learn their Mother-Tongue. But Love, at least, is not a state Either en vogue or out-of-date, And I’ve true friends, I will allow, To talk and eat with here and now. Me alienated? Bosh! It’s just As a sworn citizen who must Skirmish with it that I feel Most at home with what is Real.


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    David Mehnert

    Irritating, I know, but it's only the first line of the poem missing from the reading:

                (for Robert Lederer)

    Our earth in 1969
    Is not the planet I call mine,
    The world I mean, that gives me strength
    To hold off chaos at arm's length. , , ,

    * * *


    That we are always glad
    When the Ugly Princess, parting the bushes
    To find out why the woodcutter's children are happy,
    Disturbs a hornets' nest, that we feel no pity
    When the informer is trapped by the gang in a steam-room,
    That we howl with joy
    When the short-sighted Professor of Icelandic
    Pronounces the Greek inscription
    A Runic riddle which he then translates:

    Denouncing by proxy our commonest fault as our worst;
    That, waiting in his room for a friend,
    We start so soon to turn over his letters,
    That with such assurance we repeat as our own
    Another's story, that, dear me, how often
    We kiss in order to tell,
    Defines precisely what we mean by love:—
    To share a secret.

    The joke, which we seldom see, is on us;
    For only true hearts know how little it matters
    What the secret is they keep:
    An old, a new, a blue, a borrowed something,
    Anything will do for children
    Made in God's image and therefore
    Not like the others, not like our dear dumb friends
    Who, poor things, have nothing to hide,
    Not thank God, like our Father either
    From whom no secrets are hid.

                               — W. H. Auden, 1949

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    Fox Fox

    Интересно бы почитать переводы на русский. В Сети нашелся пока такой вариант: https://www.stihi.ru/2016/08/16/8259

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