From ‘A Summer Night’
Out on the lawn I lie in bed
Vega conspicuous overhead
In the windless nights of June,
As congregated leaves complete
Their day’s activity; my feet
Point to the rising moon.
Lucky, this point in time and space
Is chosen as my working-place,
Where the sexy airs of summer,
The bathing hours and the bare arms,
The leisured drives through a land of farms
Are good to the newcomer.
Equal with colleagues in a ring
I sit on each calm evening
Enchanted as the flowers
The opening light draws out of hiding
With all its gradual dove-like pleading,
Its logic and its powers:
That later we, though parted then,
May still recall these evenings when
Fear gave his watch no look;
The lion griefs loped from the shade
And on our knees their muzzles laid,
And Death put down his book.
Now north and south and east and west
Those I love lie down to rest;
The moon looks on them all,
The healers and the brilliant talkers,
The eccentrics and the silent walkers
The dumpy and the tall.
These are the opening stanzas of a longer poem, chronicling what Auden described as a vision of agape, pure devotional love. I think the poem then falls off somewhat: I feel that Auden can sometimes gets a bit wordy. But then those lion griefs come loping from the shade, and I bow to a master…