Monday, December 3, 2012

Two poems that remind me of the many voyages of Yorkshire Pudding

I don’t know why. They just do.


Atlantis
by W. H. Auden (1907 - 1973)


Being set on the idea
Of getting to Atlantis,
You have discovered of course
Only the Ship of Fools is
Making the voyage this year,
As gales of abnormal force
Are predicted, and that you
Must therefore be ready to
Behave absurdly enough
To pass for one of The Boys,
At least appearing to love
Hard liquor, horseplay and noise.

Should storms, as may well happen,
Drive you to anchor a week
In some old harbour-city
Of Ionia, then speak
With her witty scholars, men
Who have proved there cannot be
Such a place as Atlantis:
Learn their logic, but notice
How its subtlety betrays
Their enormous simple grief;
Thus they shall teach you the ways
To doubt that you may believe.

If, later, you run aground
Among the headlands of Thrace,
Where with torches all night long
A naked barbaric race
Leaps frenziedly to the sound
Of conch and dissonant gong:
On that stony savage shore
Strip off your clothes and dance, for
Unless you are capable
Of forgetting completely
About Atlantis, you will
Never finish your journey.

Again, should you come to gay
Carthage or Corinth, take part
In their endless gaiety;
And if in some bar a tart,
As she strokes your hair, should say
“This is Atlantis, dearie,”
Listen with attentiveness
To her life-story: unless
You become acquainted now
With each refuge that tries to
Counterfeit Atlantis, how
Will you recognise the true?

Assuming you beach at last
Near Atlantis, and begin
That terrible trek inland
Through squalid woods and frozen
Tundras where all are soon lost;
If, forsaken then, you stand,
Dismissal everywhere,
Stone and now, silence and air,
O remember the great dead
And honour the fate you are,
Travelling and tormented,
Dialectic and bizarre.

Stagger onward rejoicing;
And even then if, perhaps
Having actually got
To the last col, you collapse
With all Atlantis shining
Below you yet you cannot
Descend, you should still be proud
Even to have been allowed
Just to peep at Atlantis
In a poetic vision:
Give thanks and lie down in peace,
Having seen your salvation.

All the little household gods
Have started crying, but say
Good-bye now, and put to sea.
Farewell, dear friend, farewell: may
Hermes, master of the roads,
And the four dwarf Kabiri,
Protect and serve you always:
And may the Ancient of Days
Provide for all you must do
His invisible guidance,
Lifting up, friend, upon you
The light of His countenance.


The Lost Land
by Ella Wheeler Wilcox (1850-1919)


There is a story of a beauteous land,
Where fields were fertile and where flowers were bright;
Where tall towers glistened in the morning light,
Where happy children wandered hand in hand,
Where lovers wrote their names upon the sand.
They say it vanished from all human sight,
The hungry sea devoured it in a night.
You doubt the tale? ah, you will understand;
For, as men muse upon that fable old,
They give sad credence always at the last,
However they have cavilled at its truth,
When with a tear-dimmed vision they behold,
Swift sinking in the ocean of the Past,
The lovely lost Atlantis of their Youth.


2 comments:

Yorkshire Pudding said...

Dearest Mr Brague,
I am hoping that it wasn't the mention of "endless gaiety" that reminded you of me! Perhaps you sense a restlessness - as if my travels have been in search of something more - but maybe that is what all real travelling is about - a quest for something more. You will be happy to know that very soon I shall be far away again and I invite you to share some of my journeys with me from afar - as you did before. I thought the poems were jolly interesting though in my head, I found it hard to read the Auden poem. It kept reverting to straightforward prose. Perhaps that was his intention.
Your obedient servant,
Yorkshire Pudding

rhymeswithplague said...

Y.P., no, not the endless gaiety. I think it was more the ever-unsatisfied wanderlust, the searching for something just beyond your grasp. Or perhaps it is the thirst to consume all of Earth's wonders and all that life offers. I really can't say, but those poems had "Yorkshire Pudding" written all over them.