Vox Populi

A Public Sphere for Poetry, Politics, and Nature

Joan E. Bauer: For Auden — Circling Toward Home

Late August & I'm reading by flashlight 
thinking you were Brodsky's friend. 
 
'Musée des Beaux Arts,' a poem I taught 
so often. I should know more.

In boarding school, you were cheeky,
untidy, the brightest boy around. 
 
What to make of that piling on of blankets, 
even a carpet, to stay warm.  
 
Art, you claimed: born of humiliation.
You knew that early & you had the gift 
 
of double focus, of seeing the world 
with more than one lens. 
 
You committed to becoming not just 
a poet, but 'a great poet,' at Oxford. 
 
With Isherwood, explored Berlin, 
'the buggers daydream,'then turned
 
to teaching. Dry martinis as you crafted
librettos with Kallman whom you loved 
 
to distraction. Eighty years ago you wrote 
a prophetic poem about dictators who hoped
 
to bend nations to their will. Then disowned 
the poem, calling its language 'too high-flown.'
 
Such a gift for friendship. 
I hadn't known it was Oliver Sacks 
 
who drove you to the airport as you left
America for England, that last time.  

Copyright 2019 Joan Bauer

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