Friday, March 30, 2012

From "In Memory Of W.B. Yeats" (W.H. Auden)

Time that is intolerant
Of the brave and the innocent,
And indifferent in a week
To a beautiful physique,

Worships language and forgives
Everyone by whom it lives;
Pardons cowardice, conceit,
Lays its honours at their feet.

Time that with this strange excuse
Pardoned Kipling and his views,
And will pardon Paul Claudel,
Pardons him for writing well.



  1. I have not read Claudel, since I don't read French, but Kipling is a late-blooming favorite, both stories and poems. Of the stories, all in The Phantom Rickshaw are great, and of the poems the irresistible Tommy (originally titled The Queen's Uniform) is my hands-down favorite:

    Yes, makin' mock o' uniforms that guard you while you sleep
    Is cheaper than them uniforms an' they're starvation cheap . . . .

    For it's Tommy this an' Tommy that an' "Tommy, wait outside!"
    But it's "Special train for Atkins" when the trooper's on the tide.
    The troopship's on the tide, my boys, the troopship's on the tide,
    O it's "Special train for Atkins" when the trooper's on the tide.

  2. At the time I first read Auden's poem, this part of the third section affected me because I had read some Claudel and learned the facts of his troubling biography. I had been impressed with his writing (its clarity and penetration) and knew some of the complaints about Kipling, so this stuck. When I read up on the Auden poem a little before posting this, one writer asserted that Auden was paying his sort of tribute to a couple of writers who he knew were far more talented than he. I don't know whether that's true (I think Auden wrote some great poems and was very talented), but I can imagine that might have formed part of his thinking. Both Kipling and Claudel were very talented, as well as very popular and highly successful. Would like to read more Kipling when I can clear away some of the mental driftwood, which I hope is SOON. Curtis

  3. I think Auden had no doubts about how talented he was. Plenty of other sorts of doubts, but not that one.

    Much as I love Kipling, I could live without out him. I could live without Auden, too, if it came to that, but boy I'd miss him.

    Tears are round,
    the sea is deep.
    Roll them overboard,
    and sleep.

  4. One of the great poems in Literature anywhere.One may not agree with all the views.The colonized won't forgive Kipling and his views. Kipling was bloody ordinary.

    1. Keki: Thanks so much for your note. I haven't been posting regularly lately (busy with all sorts of things and a little confused most of the time), but hope to again soon, so please visit again. Curtis