Linggo, Marso 18, 2012


    If the hill overlooking our city has always been known as Adam's Grave, only at dusk can you see the recumbent giant, his head turned to the west, his right arm resting for ever on Eve's haunch
    can you learn, from the way he looks up at the scandalous pair, what a citizen really thinks of his citizenship,
    just as now you can hear in a drunkard's caterwaul his rebel sorrows crying for a parental discipline, in lustful eyes perceive a disconsolate soul, scanning with desperation all passing limbs for some vestige of her faceless angel who in that long ago when wishing was a help mounted her once and vanished:
    For Sun and Moon supply their conforming masks, but in this hour of civil twilight all must wear their own faces.
    And it is now that our two paths cross.
    Both simultaneously recognise his Anti-type: that I am an Arcadian, that he is a Utopian.
    He notes, with contempt, my Aquarian belly: I note, with alarm, his Scorpion's mouth.
    He would like to see me cleaning latrines: I would like to see him removed to some other planet.
    Neither speaks. What experience could we possibly share?
    Glancing at a lampshade in a store window, I observe it is too hideous for anyone in their senses to buy: He observes it is too expensive for a peasant to buy.
    Passing a slum child with rickets, I look the other way: He looks the other way if he passes a chubby one.
    I hope our senators will behave like saints, provided they don't reform me: He hopes they will behave like baritone cattivi, and, when lights bum late in the Citadel, I (who have never seen the inside of a police station) am shocked and think: 'Were the city as free as they say, after sundown all her bureaus would be huge black stones':
    He (who has been beaten up several times) is not shocked at all but thinks: 'One fine night our boys will be working up there.'
    You can see, then, why, between my Eden and his New Jerusalem, no treaty is negotiable.
    In my Eden a person who dislikes Bellini has the good manners not to get born: In his New Jerusalem a person who dislikes work will be very sorry he was born.
    In my Eden we have a few beam-engines, saddle-tank locomotives, overshot waterwheels and other beautiful pieces of obsolete machinery to play with: In his New Jerusalem even chefs will be cucumber-cool machine minders.
    In my Eden our only source of political news is gossip: In his New Jerusalem there will be a special daily in simplified spelling for non-verbal types.
    In my Eden each observes his compulsive rituals and superstitious tabus but we have no morals: In his New Jerusalem the temples will be empty but all will practise the rational virtues.
    One reason for his contempt is that I have only to close my eyes, cross the iron footbridge to the tow-path, take the barge through the short brick tunnel and there I stand in Eden again, welcomed back by the krumhorns, doppions, sordumes of jolly miners and a bob major from the Cathedral (romanesque) of St Sophie (Die Kalte):
    One reason for my alarm is that, when he closes his eyes, he arrives, not in New Jerusalem, but on some august day of outrage when hellikins cavort through ruined drawing-rooms and fish-wives intervene in the Chamber or
    some autumn night of deletions and noyades when the unrepentant thieves (including me) are sequestered and those he hates shall hate themselves instead.

    So with a passing glance we take the other's posture; already, our steps recede, heading, incorrigible each, towards his kind of meal and evening.
    Was it (as it must look to any god of cross-roads) simply a fortuitous intersection of life-paths, loyal to different fibs
    or also a rendezvous between accomplices who, in spite of themselves, cannot resist meeting
    to remind the other (do both, at bottom, desire truth?) of that half of their secret which he would most like to forget
    forcing us both, for a fraction of a second, to remember our victim (but for him I could forget the blood, but for me he could forget the innocence)
    on whose immolation (call him Abel, Remus, whom you will, it is one Sin Offering) arcadias, utopias, our dear old bag of a democracy, are alike founded:
    For without a cement of blood (it must be human, it must be innocent) no secular wall will safely stand.

by W. H. Auden

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