A Public Sphere for Poetry, Politics, and Nature
“We must love one another or die.” — W.H. Auden
What caused you to think it was a lie,
Old Master—that either/or that gave you pause
in “September 1, 1939”?
You thought love transcended death and then
you doubted that and sent your poem to the drawer
so you could work on it some more in your head,
change “or” to “and,” which was “still no good”
you thought, causing you to swear, “That’s a damned
lie. We must die anyway…”
You had forgotten why you wrote the law
we loved and need to hear in every age.
It seems that death had turned your mind so purely
literal that you forgot that we can die
alive before we die in bed. But now
that you are gone, we’re free to save your banished
line and publish it against your will
as true enough since we believe as you
believed at first that we can live forever
here by loving now for just a while.
Copyright 2019 Chard DeNiord