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from The Dog Beneath The Skin -- W H Auden

Guest poem sent in by Vikram Doctor
(Poem #728) from The Dog Beneath The Skin
 Now through night's caressing grip
 Earth and all her oceans slip,
 Capes of China slide away
 From her fingers into day
 And the Americas incline
 Coasts towards her shadow line.
 Now the ragged vagrants creep
 Into crooked holes to sleep:
 Just and unjust, worst and best,
 Change their places as they rest:
 Awkward lovers lie in fields
 Where disdainful beauty yields:
 While the splendid and the proud
 Naked stand before the crowd
 And the losing gambler gains
 And the beggar entertains:
 May sleep's healing power extend
 Through these hours to our friend.
 Unpursued by hostile force,
 Traction engine, bull or horse
 Or revolting succubus;
 Calmly till the morning break
 Let him lie, then gently wake.
-- W H Auden
Another Auden poem, another lullaby. This shows Auden's ability with the
simplest of poems - just a matchless word picture of our 'swiftly tilting
planet' (have we had Aiken's Senlin poem?), infused with that unique feeling
of tenderness and protectiveness that anyone who has watched someone one
loves sleeping will know.


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