Dig that antimythological myth.
It'th a real hit, ithn't it?
  ----- Original Message ----- 
  From: David Boyd 
  To: [log in to unmask] 
  Sent: Saturday, April 14, 2007 2:18 AM
  Subject: Re: O.T.: W.H. Auden in York Cabs

  And this I think was in praise of Yorkshire equally [just love the  aptness and absolute concise precision of the 'immoderate soils' image]:-

  In Praise Of Limestone 
  If it form the one landscape that we, the inconstant ones,
      Are consistently homesick for, this is chiefly
  Because it dissolves in water. Mark these rounded slopes
      With their surface fragrance of thyme and, beneath,
  A secret system of caves and conduits; hear the springs
      That spurt out everywhere with a chuckle,
  Each filling a private pool for its fish and carving
      Its own little ravine whose cliffs entertain
  The butterfly and the lizard; examine this region
      Of short distances and definite places:
  What could be more like Mother or a fitter background
      For her son, the flirtatious male who lounges
  Against a rock in the sunlight, never doubting
      That for all his faults he is loved; whose works are but
  Extensions of his power to charm? From weathered outcrop
      To hill-top temple, from appearing waters to
  Conspicuous fountains, from a wild to a formal vineyard,
      Are ingenious but short steps that a child's wish
  To receive more attention than his brothers, whether
      By pleasing or teasing, can easily take.
  Watch, then, the band of rivals as they climb up and down
      Their steep stone gennels in twos and threes, at times
  Arm in arm, but never, thank God, in step; or engaged
      On the shady side of a square at midday in
  Voluble discourse, knowing each other too well to think
      There are any important secrets, unable
  To conceive a god whose temper-tantrums are moral
      And not to be pacified by a clever line
  Or a good lay: for accustomed to a stone that responds,
      They have never had to veil their faces in awe
  Of a crater whose blazing fury could not be fixed;
      Adjusted to the local needs of valleys
  Where everything can be touched or reached by walking,
      Their eyes have never looked into infinite space
  Through the lattice-work of a nomad's comb; born lucky,
      Their legs have never encountered the fungi
  And insects of the jungle, the monstrous forms and lives
      With which we have nothing, we like to hope, in common.
  So, when one of them goes to the bad, the way his mind works
      Remains incomprehensible: to become a pimp
  Or deal in fake jewellery or ruin a fine tenor voice
      For effects that bring down the house, could happen to all
  But the best and the worst of us...
                                                  That is why, I suppose,
      The best and worst never stayed here long but sought
  Immoderate soils where the beauty was not so external,
      The light less public and the meaning of life
  Something more than a mad camp. `Come!' cried the granite wastes,
      `How evasive is your humour, how accidental
  Your kindest kiss, how permanent is death.' (Saints-to-be
      Slipped away sighing.) `Come!' purred the clays and gravels,
  `On our plains there is room for armies to drill; rivers
      Wait to be tamed and slaves to construct you a tomb
  In the grand manner: soft as the earth is mankind and both
      Need to be altered.' (Intendant Caesars rose and
  Left, slamming the door.) But the really reckless were fetched
      By an older colder voice, the oceanic whisper:
  `I am the solitude that asks and promises nothing;
      That is how I shall set you free. There is no love;
  There are only the various envies, all of them sad.'

      They were right, my dear, all those voices were right
  And still are; this land is not the sweet home that it looks,
      Nor its peace the historical calm of a site
  Where something was settled once and for all: A back ward
      And dilapidated province, connected
  To the big busy world by a tunnel, with a certain
      Seedy appeal, is that all it is now? Not quite:
  It has a worldy duty which in spite of itself
      It does not neglect, but calls into question
  All the Great Powers assume; it disturbs our rights. The poet,
      Admired for his earnest habit of calling
  The sun the sun, his mind Puzzle, is made uneasy
      By these marble statues which so obviously doubt
  His antimythological myth; and these gamins,
      Pursuing the scientist down the tiled colonnade
  With such lively offers, rebuke his concern for Nature's
      Remotest aspects: I, too, am reproached, for what
  And how much you know. Not to lose time, not to get caught,
      Not to be left behind, not, please! to resemble
  The beasts who repeat themselves, or a thing like water
      Or stone whose conduct can be predicted, these
  Are our common prayer, whose greatest comfort is music
      Which can be made anywhere, is invisible,
  And does not smell. In so far as we have to look forward
      To death as a fact, no doubt we are right: But if
  Sins can be forgiven, if bodies rise from the dead,
      These modifications of matter into
  Innocent athletes and gesticulating fountains,
      Made solely for pleasure, make a further point:
  The blessed will not care what angle they are regarded from,
      Having nothing to hide. Dear, I know nothing of
  Either, but when I try to imagine a faultless love
      Or the life to come, what I hear is the murmur
  Of underground streams, what I see is a limestone landscape.


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