Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Auden on Montaigne


Outside his library window he could see
A gentle landscape terrified of grammar,
Cities where lisping was compulsory,
And provinces where it was death to stammer.

The hefty sprawled, too tired to care: it took
This donnish undersexed conservative
To start a revolution and to give
The Flesh its weapons to defeat the Book.

When devils drive the reasonable wild,
They strip their adult century so bare,
Love must be re-grown from the sensual child,

To doubt becomes a way of definition,
Even belles lettres legitimate as prayer,
And laziness a movement of contrition.

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