IN THE PRISON OF HIS DAYS

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In Memory of W.B. Yeats Pt III

By W.H. Auden.

Earth, receive an honoured guest:
William Yeats is laid to rest.
Let the Irish vessel lie
Emptied of it`s poetry.
          In the nightmare of the dark
          All the dogs of Europe bark,
         And the living nations wait,
          Each sequestered in it`s hate.
Intellectual disgrace
Stares from every human face,
And the seas of pity lie
Locked and frozen in each eye.
          Follow, poet, follow right
          To the bottom of the night,
          With your unconstraining voice
          Still persuade us to rejoice.
With the farming of a verse
make a vineyard of the curse,
Sing of human unsuccess
In a rapture of distress.
          In the deserts of the heart
          Let the healing fountain start,
          In the prison of his days
          Teach the free man how to praise.
The influence of W.H. Auden is long and total: his shadow towers majestically over the passage of time almost like no other 20th century poet. He moved like quick silver; immutable, difficult to pin down, as he fell in and out of love with systems, ideas and philosophies; trying them on for size, before discarding them, the detritus of his ever changing imagination.
It seems fair to say, that for many, they only begin to seriously write poetry after reading Auden, who once said that……“Poetry is not magic. In so far as it is, or any other of the arts, can be said to have an ulterior purpose, it is by telling the truth, to disenchant and to disintoxicate……….Poetry makes nothing happen.”
By telling the truth like almost no other, reading Auden`s poetry is an act of magic which opens our minds for all things to happen.

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