Love Poems

Auden’s love Poems #

As a 25 year old teacher, Auden became attracted to one of his 13 year old male students. There is no evidence of any physical contact or impropriety. Yet the experience aroused deep feelings and lingering inspirations for Auden. Five years later he wrote the poem Lullaby.

Courtly love, idealised the object of love, leading to ultimate beauty, truth and God. Through the pursuit of beauty, we transcend or become exalted beyond the physical or temporal to a higher spiritual plain and aspire to Godliness. Pining draws the lover away from things which are base.

Like Donne, Shakespeare, D. H. Lawrence and many others, Auden believed carnal lust can transcend into spiritual love. His becomes a much broader view of the redemptive power of human love and how it can enlarge our humanity.

Lullaby #

Lay your sleeping head, my love,
Human on my faithless arm;
Time and fevers burn away
Individual beauty from
Thoughtful children, and the grave
Proves the child ephemeral:
But in my arms till break of day
Let the living creature lie,
Mortal, guilty, but to me
The entirely beautiful.

Soul and body have no bounds:
To lovers as they lie upon
Her tolerant enchanted slope
In their ordinary swoon,
Grave the vision Venus sends
Of supernatural sympathy,
Universal love and hope;
While an abstract insight wakes
Among the glaciers and the rocks
The hermit’s carnal ecstasy.

Certainty, fidelity
On the stroke of midnight pass
Like vibrations of a bell,
And fashionable madmen raise
Their pedantic boring cry:
Every farthing of the cost,
All the dreaded cards foretell,
Shall be paid, but from this night
Not a whisper, not a thought,
Not a kiss nor look be lost.

Beauty, midnight, vision dies:
Let the winds of dawn that blow
Softly round your dreaming head
Such a day of welcome show
Eye and knocking heart may bless,
Find the mortal world enough;
Noons of dryness find you fed
By the involuntary powers,
Nights of insult let you pass
Watched by every human love.