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  • Writer's pictureMj Pettengill

The Fall of Rome: Auden

Surreal, Statue of Liberty Grieves, CC0
Surreal, Statue of Liberty Grieves, CC0

By W.H. Auden For Cyril Connolly The piers are pummelled by the waves;

In a lonely field the rain

Lashes an abandoned train;

Outlaws fill the mountain caves.

Fantastic grow the evening gowns;

Agents of the Fisc pursue

Absconding tax-defaulters through

The sewers of provincial towns.

Private rites of magic send

The temple prostitutes to sleep;

All the literati keep

An imaginary friend.

Cerebrotonic Cato may

Extol the Ancient Disciplines,

But the muscle-bound Marines

Mutiny for food and pay.

Caesar’s double-bed is warm

As an unimportant clerk


On a pink official form.

Unendowed with wealth or pity,

Little birds with scarlet legs,

Sitting on their speckled eggs,

Eye each flu-infected city.

Altogether elsewhere, vast

Herds of reindeer move across

Miles and miles of golden moss,

Silently and very fast. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

W.H. Auden (1907-1973)
W.H. Auden (1907-1973)

Wystan Hugh Auden (21 February 1907 – 29 September 1973), who published as W. H. Auden, was an Anglo-American poet, born in England, later an American citizen, regarded by many as one of the greatest writers of the 20th century. His work is noted for its stylistic and technical achievements, its engagement with moral and political issues, and its variety of tone, form, and content. The central themes of his poetry are love, politics and citizenship, religion and morals, and the relationship between unique human beings and the anonymous, impersonal world of nature. <>


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