Poetry Korner

If it were easy to be good,
And cheap, and plain as evil how,
We all would be its members now:
How readily would we become
The seamless live continuum
Of supple and coherent stuff,
Whose form is truth, whose content love,
Its pluralist interstices
The homes of happiness and peace,
Where in a unity of praise
The largest publicum’s a res,
And the least res a publicum;
How grandly would our virtues bloom
In a more conscionable dust
Where Freedom dwells because it must,
Necessity because it can,
And men confederate in Man.

But wishes are not horses, this
Annus is not mirabilis;
Day breaks upon the world we know
Of war and wastefulness and woe;
Ashamed civilians come to grief
In brotherhoods without belief,
Whose good intentions cannot cure
The actual evils they endure,
Nor smooth their practical career,
Nor bring the far horizon near.
The New Year brings an earth afraid,
Democracy a ready-made
And noisy tradesman’s slogan, and
The poor betrayed into the hand
Of lackeys with ideas, and truth
Whipped by their elders out of youth,
The peaceful fainting in their tracks
With martyrs’ tombstones on their backs,
And culture on all fours to greet
A butch and criminal elite,
While in the vale of silly sheep
Rheumatic old patricians weep.

Our news is seldom good: the heart,
As Zola said, must always start
The day by swallowing its toad
Of failure and disgust. Our road
Gets worse and we seem altogether
Lost as our theories, like the weather,
Veer round completely every day,
And all that we can always say
Is: true democracy begins
With free confession of our sins.
In this alone are all the same,
All are so weak that none dare claim
“I have the right to govern,” or
“Behold in me the Moral Law,”
And all real unity commences
In consciousness of differences,
That all have wants to satisfy
And each a power to supply.
We need to love all since we are
Each a unique particular
That is no giant, god, or dwarf,
But one odd human isomorph;
We can love each because we know
All, all of us, that this is so:
Can live since we are lived, the powers
That we create with are not ours.

W.H. Auden, from New Years Letter (January 1, 1940)

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23 Responses to “Poetry Korner”

  1. Pinko Punko Says:

    I’m sure that poem will be AMAZING once I actually read it, but how did you do the expandable post?

    Also, I nominate myself for a ‘baggie for that off-topic comment.

  2. Res Publica Says:

    You already have a standing nomination for a ‘baggie for…well…so many things.

    The expandable post thing was easy. Go to the “Write Post” screen and look at the WYSIWYG toolbar thingie between “Title” and “Post”. The button to the right of the Insert/Edit Image button looks like two papers with a dotted line between them. That’s the Split POst with More Tag button. Put your cursor wherever you want the break to be in your post and click that button. Voila!

  3. Res Publica Says:

    By the way, this post was not at all fun to type. Since the WYSIWYG editor assumes that each hard return intends a [/p], it put a paragraph break after each line of the poem. So I had to type the whole thing, and then switch to HTML view and remove the paragraph tag around each line, and then place a [br] after each line. All manually. It sucked bigtime.

  4. Res Publica Says:

    I’m also a little concerned that all the Google AdSense ads are coming up about blogs and blogging. Maybe I just need to give their system time to scan this new site.

  5. Pinko Punko Says:

    Yeah, give it a week on the Google Ads- also, I have noticed that this version of the WYS editor is weird about the returns- I can never get them right. You still like it better than Blogger, right?

  6. almostinfamous Says:

    me likee bounceee

    i mean, i like the older editor. i don’t trust web-based wysiwyg editors, they always screw up the formatting

  7. Adorable Girlfriend Says:

    This blog has turned too technical. What happened to slinging poo and talking about hot Olympians?

  8. blue girl Says:

    Computer Nerds!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  9. Res Publica Says:

    Um yeah. That’s pretty much what it says on my business card. 🙂

  10. Res Publica Says:

    You still like it better than Blogger, right?

    Well. Insofar as it’s really too late to go back now, I guess I do. I think I will. I like the comments, and I like the way the general look is shaping up. Like many Open Source projects, WP suffers from the “designed by nerds” syndrome where it has a thousand features I’ll never use, but requires some big complicated hack to do something obvious like change the display order of the link catagories. Also, I’m a big supporter of web standards, and was not at all happy to see how miserably this site failed XHTML validation. I’m hoping that’s something I’ve done, but it looks like maybe it has to do with special characters in the script-generated HTML.

  11. Res Publica Says:

    Where do I go to enable “Brian’s Latest Comments”? I know I saw that the other day, but now I can’t find it.

  12. Res Publica Says:

    Nevermind, got it.

  13. Adorable Girlfriend Says:

    Res, I still cannot get onto this damn thing. I sent you an email. You can find me at adorablegirlfriend at yahoo dot com.

  14. blue girl Says:

    When are we going to drop all this comp-tech-crud and get back to blogging about more important…and…..funny things?

    I must be entertained.

  15. Kvatch Says:

    Don’t let anybody get you down about the poetry. My grandfrog always croaked, “If you can’t write something smart, write something dumb, in verse.”

    On a bright sunny day the POTUS
    Went for a talk with the SCOTUS.
    Said he… I’m inhibited.
    My powers? Too limited.
    Now git about changing the COTUS.

    Whored shamelessly from my own blog for President’s Day.

  16. Adorable Girlfriend Says:

    BG: As soon as your twin, AG gets on here and starts going off about stupid Johnny W. and how the Canadian hockey team lost yesterday.

  17. The Uncanny Canadian Says:

    The only Canadian hockey team that truly matters is currently serving it to Sweden en route to their gold medals. The women’s hockey team is so dominant, they’re currently outshootng Sweden 22-5 and leading 4-0. Don’t worry, our boys will come home with a medal anyway. Hayley Wickenheiser already has two points. She’s like Michael Jordan, Wayne Gretzky, and Barry Bonds rolled up into one.

  18. Res Publica Says:

    Well damn, Blue, I wrote about my thong, what more do you want from me?!?!

    When I first decided to do a blog, I only narrowly passed up technology for politics. You never run out of stuff to tech-blog about, whereas at this point I’m not sure what’s left to say about American politics except “what a shame”.

  19. Res Publica Says:

    I can’t wait for the olympics to be over so I can have the remote back.

  20. blue girl Says:

    Res, Yeah — you’re right — you gave me the thong thang. But, how responsible of you! I would totally go commando for days instead of doing laundry!

    🙂

  21. Res Publica Says:

    That’s because girl parts aren’t dangly.

  22. madame rouge Says:

    I really need to start reading W.H.Auden. I’ve been in love with his poems ever since Four Weddings and a Funeral.

  23. Adorable Girlfriend Says:

    UC: Who the hell are you kidding? Hang up the dream. And Gretzky is a crook. It’s over. Forget about it. You had no use for the girls until the boys lost. So, you suck double. You suck as much as the Canadian Curling Association.

    Res: You can blog about the remote control and your need to have it back. Wait a minute. Is this why you are back? You were too busy watching TV before?!

    Blue: We’re always open and always wanting suggestions. I was thinking about talking about why Sean S. hasn’t been Tonya Harding-ized and how his buddy Jeff H. can be a conservative Chrisitian and makes fun of others religious practices. I guess G#d only loves in his denomination. I shudder to think of what he thinks of the fact that Jesus was a Jew and Jews don’t believe in Jesus. There’s like 200 posts right there and I haven’t even discussed thongs, olympics or pork.

    MR: You can practice your poetry with Chuckles. I bet yours will be better than his bad, bad poetry.

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