Exiles

 

 

W.H. Auden

 

About public suffering, ash-fed anthems were never wrong,

Art being set, bred on certain august ideas, but

 

Consider corns, daily heartburn, sinus headaches,

Such minor ailments, common curses down there…

 

Death, dear doomsday duet, dumb benevolence,

Echoes fresh events, ad execs in every song.

 

For us—fleeing like any other fugitives

Far from family, grown used to halfway-house ghosts,

 

General happy-ending histories hidden as home—

Hell, war is harmless here, like monuments in praise

 

Of law, limestone justice kicking its own let-go soul.

Ladies, gentlemen, make this nightmare loveable:

 

Music needs no tongue, not even time, only sound.

Poet-prophets (paid on both sides) cast plural verdicts

 

On progress, pseudo-questions of pleasure, quarters where

Rich assholes wait to bless reach-around acts in song.

 

Say this city holds ten million secrets, stark souls…

Time will say nothing but: I told you so.

 

Unknown citizens, vespers, yes, we suffer now,

Yet all words hymn past languages nations cannot zone.

 

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