Posts Tagged ‘Another Time’

Just Another Auden October: Composed of Eros and of dust, show an affirming flame — ft. photography by Andre de Dienes

October 20, 2011

Defenseless under the night,
Our world in stupor lies;
Yet, dotted everywhere,

Ironic points of light,
Flash out wherever the Just,
Exchange their messages:

May I, composed like them
Of Eros and of dust,
Beleaguered by the same
Negation and despair

Show an affirming flame.

(W.H. Auden, “Sept. 1, 1939.” Another Time, 1940.)

All photographs by Andre de Dienes.

The date in the poem’s title refers, of course, to the invasion of Poland by Hitler’s Wehrmacht … or does it refer with remarkably prescient precedence to my birthday?

No. It refers to the other thing.

Just another Auden October: Apocalypse yesterday

October 19, 2011


The stars are dead; the animals will not look:
We are left alone with our day, and the time is short and
History to the defeated
May say Alas but cannot help or pardon.

(W. H. Auden, “Spain.” 90-93. 1937. )

Anything that men make will shake apart*. Eventually the feats of engineering and machinery humanity has wrought will fall to ruin, maybe sooner than later. Running will be no good: depend on it.

Photograph of Auden’s typewriter via swarthmore.

This poem was first published as “Spain” in 1937. Auden included it in his 1940 anthology Another Time as “Spain 1937” but later disavowed the poem’s political and apocalyptic tone, saying that he never really believed what he’d written, but wrote it because he thought it would be “rhetorically effective.” According to the late Frank Kermode, Auden hated most of all the above, which is the final stanza of “Spain”/”Spain 1937.”

I like it.

*(Except plutonium rods. I admit that those are going to take a really long time to shake apart. Way to fucking go, everybody.)