W. H. Auden


Only their hands are living, to the wheel attracted,
are moved, as deer trek desperately towards a creek
    through the dust and scrub of a desert, or gently,
        as sunflowers turn to the light,

and, as night takes up the cries of feverish children,
the cravings of lions in dens, the loves of dons,
    gathers them all and remains the night, the
        great room is full of their prayers.

To a last feast of isolation self-invited,
they flock, and in a rite of disbelief are joined;
    from numbers all their stars are recreated,
        the enchanted, the worldly, the sad.

Without, calm rivers flow among the wholly living
quite near their trysts, and mountains part them, 
                                                                        and birds,
    deep in the greens and moistures of summer,
        sing towards their work.

But here no nymph comes naked to the youngest 
the fountain is deserted, the laurel will not grow;
    the labyrinth is safe but endless, and broken
        is Ariadne’s thread,

as deeper in these hands is grooved their fortune: lucky
were few, and it is possible that none was loved,
    and what was god-like in this generation
        was never to be born.