Friday, February 27, 2009


Earth, receive an honoured guest:
William Yeats is laid to rest.
Let the Irish vessel lie
Emptied of its poetry.
In the nightmare of the dark
All the dogs of Europe bark,
And the living nations wait,
Each sequestered in its hate;
Intellectual disgrace
Stares from every human face,
And the seas of pity lie
Locked and frozen in each eye.
Follow, poet, follow right
To the bottom of the night,
With your unconstraining voice
Still persuade us to rejoice;
With the farming of a verse
Make a vineyard of the curse,
Sing of human unsuccess
In a rapture of distress;
In the deserts of the heart
Let the healing fountain start,
In the prison of his days
Teach the free man how to praise.
—W.H. Auden, "In Memory of W.B. Yeats", February 1939

In 1939 as the dogs of Europe bark in hate and as grace and pity lie locked and frozen, Auden prays that the words of Yeats, his friend, might bloom and persuade and sing and heal. Words can be powerful.
Father, God, we want Your words to teach our hearts in the same way. You are good and your words are good. May your words bloom in us and give us life. May they persuade us to follow your Son. May they sing over us and teach us to rejoice. May they be words that heal.

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