W. H. Auden


Simultaneously, as soundlessly,
    Spontaneously, suddenly 
As, at the vaunt of the dawn, the kind 
    Gates of the body fly open
To its world beyond, the gates of the mind,
    The horn gate and the ivory gate 
Swing to, swing shut, instantaneously
    Quell the nocturnal rummage
Of its rebellious fronde, ill-favored,
    Ill-natured and second-rate,
Disenfranchised, widowed and orphaned 
    By an historical mistake:
Recalled from the shades to be a seeing being,
    From absence to be on display, 
Without a name or history I wake 
    Between my body and the day.

    Holy this moment, wholly in the right,
        As, in complete obedience
    To the light's laconic outcry, next
        As a sheet, near as a wall, 
    Out there as a mountain's poise of stone,
        The world is present, about,
    And I know that I am, here, not alone
       But with a world and rejoice
    Unvexed, for the will has still to claim
        This adjacent arm as my own,
    The memory to name me, resume
        Its routine of praise and blame
    And smiling to me is this instant while
        Still the day is intact, and I 
    The Adam sinless in our beginning,
        Adam still previous to any act.

    I draw breath; this is of course to wish
        No matter what, to be wise,
    To be different, to die and the cost,
        No matter how, is Paradise
    Lost of course and myself owing a death:
        The eager ridge, the steady sea,
    The flat roofs of the fishing village 
        Still asleep in its bunny,
    Though as fresh and sunny still, are not friends
        But things to hand, this ready flesh
    No honest equal, but my accomplice now
        My assassin to be, and my name
    Stands for my historical share of care
        For a lying self-made city,
    Afraid of our living task, the dying
        Which the coming day will ask.

spoken = Alan Reinhardt