Tag Archives: W. H. Auden

Today in Lockdown

With nothing better to do on a sunny autumnal Friday,  I started to read W H Auden’s Collected Poems.

This has long sat on the shelf above my bed and I find I often just open a page and see what he has to offer. Today I found:-

When there are so many we shall have to mourn,
when grief has been made so public and exposed
to the critique of a whole new epoch
the fragility of our conscience and anguish,
of whom shall we speak?

For every day they die among us, those who
were doing us some good,
who knew it was never enough
but hoped to improve a little by liv
ing.”
In memory of Sigmund Freud 1939

How very apt at this time when we are counting deaths around the world including those on the frontline of this fight against the unseen and unknown virus.  And then:

“Goodness existed: that was the new knowledge”

W H Auden’s time was so different from ours – 1907 to 1973. He lived during the Spanish Civil War and both World Wars I and II. His poem titled “September 1, 1939”, speaks out of his concern for mankind and where their unbridled hunt for more and more,  and bigger and ‘better’ things will lead.  It is. sobering poem to read, even though written 81 years ago, it still holds true.

“I sit in one of the dives
On Fifty-second Street
Uncertain and afraid
As the clever hopes expire
Of a low dishonest decade:”

And here in New Zealand, the government is considering moving us from Alert Level 3 down to Level 2. If/when this happens, shops will be opened again and the consumerism will once again be god. How I hope that all we have learned in the past six weeks will not be undone.

Looking at what happened when Level 4 became Level 3 and click and collect was put into place for takeaway and fast food services; lines of cars queued for hours for a burger, chicken or coffee. So we will still feed our personal appetites even with the restrictions currently imposed in this Level and promulgated for the next.

 

 

But here in the sun still shines, There are two new cases reported today after one yesterday. Three people are in hospital and some 90% of those who succumbed have recovered. So it appears that we are on the way to getting it under control.

But we are not complimenting ourselves. We are not unaware that we have many benefits that other countries don’t have. We are a long way from anywhere and we are a small nation – 5,000,000 at last count. We have a determined young female Prime Minister, who is willing to listen to advice and accept help from her advisers and scientists.

And I think of my friends and family in other parts of the world and hope that they will soon be able to say they are on the way to gaining control. And with love, I offer the following –

End of today’s musings.

 

 

 

I love you

Waterfall

“And as the water continues in its downhill rush over rocks
and the thoughts continue to tumble around in my brain
with no defined pattern or path,
they eventually find and settle into a safe place
and the void is suddenly filled
and my mind is active once again.”
Judith Baxter, Mother, grandmother, sister,
friend and blogger 1938 –

Yesterday was my very least favourite day on the calendar.  I don’t look forward to 22 April as this was the day in which my DYS (not so Dashing Young Scotsman) gave up the fight and slipped quietly away from us.  So it is a sad day for me and the rest of the family.  And it is now unbelievably 15 years since that awful black day.

But today is another day and I am back to my normal self.  So what have I been thinking?

Well had I not met my DYS on that fateful day way back in 1957 what would my life be like and where would I be living.

At the time we met I had a steady beau to whom I had become engaged the previous year; sorry John you had to move aside for my love.  But had I married him I would now be ensconced no doubt in the stock broker belt in Surrey.  No he wasn’t a stockbroker but many business men live in the area and commute to the City each day.  Although by now he would have retired so would not have had to make the daily trek into town any longer.

I might have been one of those wives who have never worked but who spend their lives on charity committees, on the golf course, playing bridge and being “a lady who lunches”.  Not that there is anything wrong in any of these things.  I have always been active on committees and since I have been on my own have played golf and bridge too.  But in my busy working days I had little time for being a lady who lunched.

My children would have had a different father, different experiences and so different outcomes in their lives.  Of course, they would have been different people too.

I probably would have had grandchildren, but not the four handsome young men I call my grandsons.

My daughter-in-law from heaven would not be in my life nor would my charming son-in-law.

No doubt I would have visited many places in the world but would not have lived anywhere but England.  As it is I have lived in England, Scotland, New Zealand and Canada.

Would I have had a better life?  I doubt that.  Would I have been more loved?  Certainly not.  Do I wish I had followed that path?  Decidedly not.  I am pleased with the decisions made and the road taken on that fateful day when according to my young sister I came home and announced that I had met the man I was going to marry.  I guess that caused some confusion in the family as I was already engaged.

That earlier engagement was celebrated with a big formal party.  About 100 people were invited and one of my abiding memories of that day was the two of us dancing to our tune “Too Young” sung by Nat King Cole,  being played on the gramophone (do you remember those).  Well yes we were too young.  We had become engaged at 18 without either of us having had much experience of the world.  So my deciding to break that engagement probably did as much for him as it did for me.

Mind you I often wonder what happened to that young man.  We did keep in contact for a few years until we moved to Scotland – he even attended our wedding and he and my DYS became firm friends.  But then he became one of those people who are in your life for a Reason, or a Season but not for a Lifetime.

My Lifetime person was the one I married.   And shortly before he died we found this lovely poem by W H Auden.  He told me he thought it was written for us.  I am happy to share it here.

“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.”
From “As I Walked Out One Evening” by W.H. Auden

And because it is another day, the rain has gone and the sun is trying to shine I am also sharing my rainbow with you.

Rainbow

My rainbow