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Advent Poetry Calendar – Day 2

ADVENT-DAY-two

24 Days Till Christmas

As I Walked Out One Evening, By W.H. Auden
Read by Tom Hiddleston
Submitted by Sarah Wingo

“As I Walked Out One Evening” was written in the mid-1930s, early in Auden’s career. In technical terms the poem is a literary ballad with ABCB quatrains and other elements of the lyric poem. The poem deals with love, mortality, and the steady march of time. Although there is melancholy in this poem, one of my favorite take aways from it is that although life is fleeting, and perhaps even more so because it is so fleeting “Life remains a blessing.” My favorite line comes near the end of the poem:

“You shall love your crooked neighbor
With your crooked heart.”

This line acknowledges the deep imperfections of humanity, while at the same time celebrating the human capacity for love.

As we count down to Christmas you will hear my voice and other voices from the library reading some of the poems that have been selected, but to start us off with a little treat I found an audio clip of Tom Hiddleston reading “As I Walked Out One Evening”:

As I Walked out One Evening 
by W. H. Auden
 
As I walked out one evening,
   Walking down Bristol Street,
The crowds upon the pavement
   Were fields of harvest wheat.
 
And down by the brimming river
   I heard a lover sing
Under an arch of the railway:
   ‘Love has no ending.
 
‘I’ll love you, dear, I’ll love you
   Till China and Africa meet,
And the river jumps over the mountain
   And the salmon sing in the street,
 
‘I’ll love you till the ocean
   Is folded and hung up to dry
And the seven stars go squawking
   Like geese about the sky.
 
‘The years shall run like rabbits,
   For in my arms I hold
The Flower of the Ages,
   And the first love of the world.’
 
But all the clocks in the city
   Began to whirr and chime:
‘O let not Time deceive you,
   You cannot conquer Time.
 
‘In the burrows of the Nightmare
   Where Justice naked is,
Time watches from the shadow
   And coughs when you would kiss.
 
‘In headaches and in worry
   Vaguely life leaks away,
And Time will have his fancy
   To-morrow or to-day.
 
‘Into many a green valley
   Drifts the appalling snow;
Time breaks the threaded dances
   And the diver’s brilliant bow.
 
‘O plunge your hands in water,
   Plunge them in up to the wrist;
Stare, stare in the basin
   And wonder what you’ve missed.
 
‘The glacier knocks in the cupboard,
   The desert sighs in the bed,
And the crack in the tea-cup opens
   A lane to the land of the dead.
 
‘Where the beggars raffle the banknotes
   And the Giant is enchanting to Jack,
And the Lily-white Boy is a Roarer,
   And Jill goes down on her back.
 
‘O look, look in the mirror,
   O look in your distress:
Life remains a blessing
   Although you cannot bless.
 
‘O stand, stand at the window
   As the tears scald and start;
You shall love your crooked neighbour
   With your crooked heart.’
 
It was late, late in the evening,
   The lovers they were gone;
The clocks had ceased their chiming,
   And the deep river ran on.

 

 


SarahArticle by Sarah Wingo, team leader- Humanities II, subject librarian for English, literature and theatre.



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1 Comment »

  1. Comment by Alexander Dmitriev — December 2, 2014 @ 1:31 PM

    Breathless…

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Last Modified: December 1, 2014