August Afternoon, Appledore, 1900
August for the people and their favourite islands.
Daily the steamers sidle up to meet
The effusive welcome of the pier, and soon
The luxuriant life of the steep stone valleys
The sallow oval faces of the city
Begot in passion or good-natured habit
Are caught by waiting coaches, or laid bare
Beside the undiscriminating sea.
Lulled by the light they live their dreams of freedom,
May climb the old road twisting to the moors,
Play leapfrog, enter cafes, wear
The tigerish blazer and the dove-like shoe.
The yachts upon the little lake are theirs,
The gulls ask for them, and to them the band
Makes its tremendous statements ; they control
The complicated apparatus of amusement.
All types that can intrigue the writer's fancy
Or sensuality approves are here.
And I each meal-time with the families
The animal brother and his serious sister,
Or after breakfast on the urned steps watching
The defeated and disfigured marching by,
Have thought of you, Christopher, and wished beside me
Your squat spruce body and enormous head.
Nine years ago upon that southern island
Where the wild Tennyson became a fossil,
Half-boys, we spoke of books, and praised
The acid and austere, behind us only
The stuccoed suburb and expensive school.
Scented our turf, the distant baying
Nice decoration to the artist's wish,
Yet fast the deer was flying through the wood.
Our hopes were set still on the spies' career,
Prizing the glasses and the old felt hat,
And all the secrets we discovered were
Extraordinary and false ; for this one coughed
And it was gasworks coke, and that one laughed
And it was snow in bedrooms ; many wore wigs,
The coastguard signalled messages of love,
The enemy were sighted from the norman tower.
Five summers pass and now we watch
The Baltic from a balcony: the word is love.
Surely one fearless kiss would cure
The million fevers, a stroking brush
The insensitive refuse from the burning core.
Was there a dragon who had closed the works
While the starved city fed it with the Jews ?
Then love would tame it with his trainer's look.
Pardon the studied taste that could refuse
The golf-house quick one and the rector's tea;
Pardon the nerves the thrushes could not soothe,
Yet answered promptly the no-subtier lure
To private joking in a panelled room.
The solitary vitality of tramps and madmen,
Believed the whisper in the double bed.
Pardon for these and every flabby fancy.
For now the moulding images of growth
That made our interest and us, are gone.
Louder to day the wireless roars
Its warnings and its lies, and it's impossible
Among the well-shaped cosily to flit,
Or longer to desire about our lives
The beautiful loneliness of the banks, or find
The stores and resignations of the frozen plains.
The close-set eyes of mother's boy
Saw nothing to be done ; we look again
See scandal praying with her sharp knees up
And virtue stood at Weeping Cross
And Courage to his leaking ship appointed,
Slim Truth dismissed without a character
And gaga Falsehood highly recommended,
The green thumb to the ledger knuckled down,
Greed showing shamelessly her naked money
And all love's wandering eloquence debased
To a collector's slang, Smartness in furs
And Beauty scratching miserably for food,
Honour self sacrificed for Calculation
And reason stoned by mediocrity,
Freedom by power shamefully maltreated
And Justice exiled till Saint Geoffrey's Day.
So in this hour of crisis and dismay
What better than your strict and adult pen
Can warn us from the colours and the consolations,
The showy arid works, reveal
The squalid shadow of academy and garden,
Make action urgent and its nature clear ?
Who give us nearer insight to resist
The expanding fear, the savaging disaster ?
This then my birthday wish for you, as now
From the narrow window of my fourth floor room
I smoke into the night, and watch reflections
Stretch in the harbour. In the houses
The little pianos are closed, and a clock strikes.
And all sway forward on the dangerous flood
Of history that never sleeps or dies,
And, held one moment, burns the hand.
W. H. Auden
Appledore som ingår i ögrupppen Isles of Shoals, hör definitivt till mina favoritöar. Brukar du titta in här, kan du inte ha undgått att höra talas om ön, eftersom jag pratat om den flera gånger tidigare.