The More Loving One
Looking up at the stars, I know quite well
That, for all they care, I can go to hell,
But on earth indifference is the least
We have to dread from man or beast.
How should we like it were stars to burn
With a passion for us we could not return?
If equal affection cannot be,
Let the more loving one be me.
Admirer as I think I am
Of stars that do not give a damn,
I cannot, now I see them, say
I missed one terribly all day.
Were all stars to disappear or die,
I should learn to look at an empty sky
And feel its total dark sublime,
Though this might take me a little time.
-W. H. Auden
"Lady Weeping at the Crossroads"
Lady, weeping at the crossroads,
Would you meet your love
In twilight with his greyhounds,
And the hawk upon his glove?
Bribe the bird then on the branches,
Bribe them to be dumb,
Stare the hot sun out of heaven
That the night may come.
Starless are the nights of travel,
Bleak the winter wind;
Run with terror all before you
And regret behind.
Run until you hear the ocean's
Deep though it may be and bitter
You must drink it dry,
Wear out patience in the lowest
Dungeons of the sea,
Searching through the stranded shipwrecks
For the golden key,
Push on to the world's end, pay the
Dread guard with a kiss
Cross the rotten bridge that totters
Over the abyss.
There stands the deserted castle
Ready to explore;
Enter, climb the marble staircase,
Open the locked door.
Cross the silent empty ballroom
Doubt and anger past;
Blow the cobwebs from the mirror,
See yourself at last.
Put your hand behind the wainscot,
You have done your part;
Find the penknife there and plunge it
Into your false heart.
-W. H. Auden
"He would not stay for me, and who can wonder?"
He would not stay for me, and who can wonder?
He would not stay for me to stand and gaze.
I shook his hand, and tore my heart in sunder,
And went with half my life about my ways.
- A. E. Housman
Be Near Me
Be near me now,
My tormenter, my love, be near me—
At this hour when night comes down,
When, having drunk from the gash of sunset, darkness comes
With the balm of musk in its hands, its diamond lancets,
When it comes with cries of lamentation,
with laughter with songs;
Its blue-gray anklets of pain clinking with every step.
At this hour when hearts, deep in their hiding places,
Have begun to hope once more, when they start their vigil
For hands still enfolded in sleeves;
When wine being poured makes the sound
of inconsolable children
who, though you try with all your heart,
cannot be soothed.
When whatever you want to do cannot be done,
When nothing is of any use;
—At this hour when night comes down,
When night comes, dragging its long face,
dressed in mourning,
Be with me,
My tormenter, my love, be near me.
- Faiz Ahmed Faiz
Translated by Naomi Lazard