WH Auden


The Two - Poem by WH Auden

You are the town and we are the clock.
We are the guardians of the gate in the rock
The Two
On your left and on your right
In the day and in the night,
We are watching you.

Wiser not to ask just what has occurred
To them who disobeyed our word;
To those
We were the whirlpool, we were the reef,
We were the formal nightmare, grief
And the unlucky rose.

Climb up the crane, learn the sailor's words
When the ships from the islands laden with birds
Come in
Tell your stories of fishing and other men's wives:
The expansive moments of constricted lives
In the lighted inn.

But do not imagine we do not know
Nor that what you hide with such care won't show
At a glance
Nothing is done, nothing is said,
But don't make the mistake of believing us dead:
I shouldn't dance.

We're afraid in that case you'll have a fall.
We've been watching you over the garden wall
For hours.
The sky is darkening like a stain
Something is going to fall like rain
And it won't be flowers.

When the green field comes off like a lid
Revealing what was much better hid:
Unpleasant.
And look, behind you without a sound
The woods have come and are standing round
In deadly crescent.

The bolt is sliding in its groove,
Outside the window is the black remov-
ers van.
And now with sudden swift emergence
Comes the women in dark glasses and the humpbacked surgeons
And the scissor man.

This might happen any day
So be careful what you say
Or do.
Be clean, be tidy, oil the lock,
Trim the garden, wind the clock,
Remember the Two.


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Read poems about / on: fishing, grief, women, dance, remember, rose, rain, green, wind, dark, sky, night, fish, flower, believe, woman



Poem Submitted: Friday, January 3, 2003



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