May 27, 2011

For Friends Only

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--Description: 20th C, Auden W., Friendship--


Ours yet not ours, being set apart
As a shrine to friendship,
Empty and silent most of the year,
This room awaits from you
What you alone, as visitor, can bring,
A weekend of personal life.

In a house backed by orderly woods,
Facing a tractored sugar-beet country,
Your working hosts engaged to their stint,
You are unlike to encounter
Dragons or romance: were drama a craving,
You would not have come.

Books we do have for almost any
Literate mood, and notepaper, envelopes,
For a writing one (to "borrow" stamps
Is the mark of ill-breeding):
Between lunch and tea, perhaps a drive;
After dinner, music or gossip.

Should you have troubles (pets will die
Lovers are always behaving badly)
And confession helps, we will hear it,
Examine and give our counsel:
If to mention them hurts too much,
We shall not be nosey.

Easy at first, the language of friendship

Is, as we soon discover,
Very difficult to speak well, a tongue
With no cognates, no resemblance
To the galimatias of nursery and bedroom,
Court rhyme or shepherd's prose,

And, unless spoken often, soon goes rusty.
Distance and duties divide us,
But absence will not seem an evil
If it make our re-meeting
A real occasion. Come when you can:
Your room will be ready.

In Tum-Tum's reign a tin of biscuits
On the bedside table provided
For nocturnal munching. Now weapons have changed,
And the fashion of appetites:
There, for sunbathers who count their calories,
A bottle of mineral water.

Felicissima notte! May you fall at once
Into a cordial dream, assured
That whoever slept in this bed before
Was also someone we like,
That within the circle of our affection
Also you have no double.

W. H. Auden

--Did You Know: Auden grew up in Birmingham in a professional middle-class family and read English literature at Christ Church, Oxford. His early poems, written in the late 1920s and early 1930s, alternated between telegraphic modern styles and fluent traditional ones, were written in an intense and dramatic tone.

--Word of the Day: halcyon \HAL-see-uhn\, adjective
Meaning: 1. Calm; quiet; peaceful; undisturbed; happy; as, "deep, halcyon repose." 2. Marked by peace and prosperity; as, "halcyon years."
Example: It seems to be that my boyhood days in the Edwardian era were halcyon days.
(Mel Gussow, "At Home With John Gielgud: His Own Brideshead, His Fifth 'Lear'", New York Times, October 28, 1993)

--Quote of the Day: Friendship is like a prism through which the many variations of beauty are revealed in our lives.

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Posted by V. Mahfood
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