One charms by thickness of wrist ; one by variety of positions ; one has beautiful skin ; one a fascinating smell. One has prominent eyes, is bold at accosting. One has water sense ; he can dive like a swallow without using his hands. One is obeyed by dogs, one can bring down snipe on the wing. One can do cart wheels before theatre queues ; one can slip through a narrow ring.
One with a violin can conjure up images of running water ; one is skilful at improvising a fugue ; the bowel tremors at the pedal entry. One amuses by pursing his lips ; or can imitate the neigh of a randy stallion. One casts metal in black sand ; one wipes the eccentrics of a great engine with cotton waste. One jumps out of windows for profit. One makes leather instruments of torture for titled masochists ; one makes ink for his son out of oak galls and rusty nails. One makes bedsteads adorned with carvings, at the request of friends.
One in a red-brick villa makes designs for a bridge, creates beauty for a purpose. One is eloquent, persuades committees of the value of spending ; one announces weddings in a solemn voice. One is told secrets at night, can stop a young girl biting her nails. One can extirpate a goitre with little risk. One can fortell the migrations of mackerel ; one can distinguish the eggs of sea-birds. One is a lightning calculator ; he is a young one. One is clumsy but amazes by his knowledges of time-tables. One delivers buns in a van, halting at houses. One can emend a mutilated text ; one can estimate the percentage of moisture in a sample of nitre. One decorates a room for a lady in black and silver ; one manufactures elephant drums for a circus. One has an extraordinary capacity for organising study circles. One fosters snowdrops in a green bowl. One does nothing at all but is good.
From W.H. Auden, The Orators, London, Faber and Faber Limited, 1932.
All images from: Richard Moss, Plotting The Blitz -- Exploring Bomb Census Maps (Link)
I dedicate this post to the underworldly, disconsidered, former nonentity, current not-even-that-much, who bid me "shoo" yesterday while butting into a conversation that didn't involve him. I sincerely hope (for your partner's benefit, not yours) that the "meds" have kicked in, you creep. You're . . . so vain.