POETRY: The Vision Of The Shepherds by W. H. Auden

The Vision Of The Shepherds by W. H. Auden

One

THE FIRST SHEPHERD

The winter night requires our constant attention,
Watching that water and goodwill,
Warmth and well-being, may still be there in the morning.

THE SECOND SHEPHERD

For behind the spontaneous joy of life
There is always a mechanism to keep going,

THE THIRD SHEPHERD

And someone like us is always there.

THE FIRST SHEPHERD

We observe that those who assure us their education
And money would do us such harm,
How real we are just as we are, and how they envy us,
For it is the centerless tree
And the uncivilized robin who are the truly happy,
Have done pretty well for themselves:

THE SECOND SHEPHERD

Nor can we help noticing how those who insist that
We ought to stand up for our rights,
And how important we are, keep insisting also
That it doesn’t matter a bit
If one of us gets arrested or injured, for
It is only our numbers that count.

THE THIRD SHEPHERD

In a way they are right,

THE FIRST SHEPHERD

But to behave like a cogwheel
When one knows one is no such thing,

THE SECOND SHEPHERD

Merely to add to a crowd with one’s passionate body,
Is not a virtue.

THE THIRD SHEPHERD

What is real
About us all is that each of us is waiting.

THE FIRST SHEPHERD

That is why we are able to bear
Ready-made clothes, second-hand art and opinions
And being washed and ordered about;

THE SECOND SHEPHERD

That is why you should not take our conversation
Too seriously, nor read too much
Into our songs;

THE THIRD SHEPHERD

Their purpose is mainly to keep us
From watching the clock all the time.

THE FIRST SHEPHERD

For, though we cannot say why, we know that something
Will happen:

THE SECOND SHEPHERD

What we cannot say,

THE THIRD SHEPHERD

Except that it will not be a reporter’s item
Of unusual human interest;

THE FIRST SHEPHERD

That always means something unpleasant.

THE SECOND SHEPHERD

But one day or
The next we shall hear the Good News.

Two

THE THREE SHEPHERDS

Levers nudge the aching wrist;
“You are free
Not to be,
Why exist?”
Wheels a thousand times a minute
Mutter, stutter,
“End the self you cannot mend,
Did you, friend, begin it?”
And the streets
Sniff at our defeats.
Then who is the Unknown
Who answers for our fear
As if it were His own,
So that we reply
Till the day we die;
“No, I don’t know why,
But I’m glad I’m here”?

Three

CHORUS OF ANGELS

Unto you a Child,
A Son is given.
Praising, proclaiming
The ingression of Love,
Earth’s darkness invents
The blaze of Heaven,
And frigid silence
Meditates a song;
For great joy has filled
The narrow and the sad,
While the emphasis
Of the rough and big,
The abiding crag
And wandering wave,
Is on forgiveness:
Sing Glory to God
And goodwill to men,
All, all, all of them.
Run to Bethlehem.

SHEPHERDS

Let us run to learn
How to love and run;
Let us run to Love.

CHORUS

Now all things living,
Domestic or wild,
With whom you must share
Light, water, and air,
And suffer and shake
In physical need,
The sullen limpet,
The exuberant weed,
The mischievous cat,
And the timid bird,
Are glad for your sake
As the new-born Word
Declares that the old
Authoritarian
Constraint is replaced
By His Covenant,
And a city based
On love and consent
Suggested to men,
All, all, all of them.
Run to Bethlehem.

SHEPHERDS

Let us run to learn
How to love and run;
Let us run to Love.

CHORUS

The primitive dead
Progress in your blood,
And generations
Of the unborn, all
Are leaping for joy
In your veins today
When the Many shall,
Once in your common
Certainty of this
Child’s lovableness,
Resemble the One,
That after today
The children of men
May be certain that
The Father Abyss
Is affectionate
To all Its creatures,
All, all, all of them.
Run to Bethlehem.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

w

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: