W. H. Auden

The Geography of the House

(for Christopher Isherwood)
Seated after breakfast 
In this white-tiled cabin 
Arabs call The House where 
Everybody goes, 
Even melancholics 
Raise a cheer to Mrs 
Nature for the primal 
Pleasures She bestows. 

Sex is but a dream to 
But a joy proposed un-
-til we start to shave: 
Mouth-delight depends on 
Virtue in the cook, but 
This She guarantees from 
Cradle unto grave. 

Lifted off the potty, 
Infants from their mothers 
Hear their first impartial 
Words of worldly praise: 
Hence, to start the morning 
With a satisfactory 
Dump is a good omen 
All our adult days. 

Revelation came to 
Luther in a privy
(Crosswords have been solved there): 
Rodin was no fool 
When he cast his Thinker, 
Cogitating deeply, 
Crouched in the position 
Of a man at stool. 

All the Arts derive from 
This ur-act of making, 
Private to the artist: 
Makers' lives are spent 
Striving in their chosen 
Medium to produce a 
De-narcissus-ized en- 
-during excrement. 

Freud did not invent the 
Constipated miser: 
Banks have letter boxes 
Built in their façade
Marked For Night Deposits, 
Stocks are firm or liquid, 
Currencies of nations 
Either soft or hard. 

Global Mother, keep our 
Bowels of compassion 
Open through our lifetime, 
Purge our minds as well: 
Grant us a king ending, 
Not a second childhood, 
Petulant, weak-sphinctered, 
In a cheap hotel. 

Keep us in our station: 
When we get pound-noteish, 
When we seem about to 
Take up Higher Thought, 
Send us some deflating 
Image like the pained ex-
-pression on a Major 
Prophet taken short. 

(Orthodoxy ought to 
Bless our modern plumbing: 
Swift and St. Augustine 
Lived in centuries 
When a stench of sewage 
Made a strong debating 
Point for Manichees.) 

Mind and Body run on 
Different time-tables: 
Not until our morning 
Visit here can we 
Leave the dead concerns of 
Yesterday behind us, 
Face with all our courage 
What is now to be.