Vox Populi

A Public Sphere for Poetry, Politics, and Nature

Chard DeNiord: At Auden’s Grave, September 1, 2016

      “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

Kirchstetten, Sankt Pölten-Land Bezirk, Lower Austria (Niederösterreich)
Headstone on Auden’s Grave in Austria

2 comments on “Chard DeNiord: At Auden’s Grave, September 1, 2016

  1. Tricia Knoll
    January 8, 2019

    Lovely with the photographs.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Bosselaar-Brown Laure-Anne
    January 8, 2019

    ” (…)death had turned your mind so purely

    literal that you forgot that we can die

    alive before we die in bed. ”

    Thank you!

    Liked by 1 person

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