(for Isaiah Berlin)
A lake allows an average father, walking slowlyTo circumvent it in an afternoon,And any healthy mother to halloo the childrenBack to her bedtime from their games across:(Anything bigger than that, like Michigan or Baikal,Though potable, is an "estranging sea").Lake-folk require no fiend to keep them on their toes;They leave aggression to ill-bred romanticsWho duel with their shadows over blasted heaths:A month in a lacustrine atmosphereWould find the fluvial rivals waltzing not exchangingThe rhyming insults of their great-great-uncles.No wonder Christendom did not get really startedTill, scarred by torture, white from caves and jails,Her pensive chiefs converged on the Ascanian LakeAnd by that stork-infested shore inventedThe life of Godhead, making catholic the figureOf three small fishes in a triangle.Sly Foreign Ministers should always meet beside one,For, whether they walk widdershins or deasil,The path will yoke their shoulders to one liquid centreLike two old donkeys pumping as they plod;Such physical compassion may not guaranteeA marriage for their armies, but it helps.
-W. H. Auden
Well, that's only the first half of the poem, but since I'm typing this late, that's all I'm going to do for now. 😉 It's a favourite of mine, since I've lived most of my life near lakes, though more of the 'estranging sea' variety--first Michigan, and now Ontario.
The Ascanian Lake is an allusion to the First Council of Nicaea. Widdershins and deasil are Auden using show-off-y words for clockwise and counter-clockwise. But who am I to complain?
A Northern Ontario lake that one could actually halloo across:
I've always thought it would be nice to live by a lake. :DReplyDelete
I like it. (Or at least I'm used to it...)Delete