Friday, May 18, 2007

Something to think about next time you get married

There's this thing here on the subways and buses where the transit authority posts some poems along with the ads. For my money they don't change over frequently enough but that just means I'm always on the lookout for a new one. The last stanza of this poem is in the new rotation and my first thought was, "why don't we hear this at weddings?" I found the whole thing and read it through and I still wonder. Sure, it's got an unorthodox feel but it's so much better than that "love is patient, love is kind" crap. I mean, yeah, love is patient and love is kind but love is also green and scaly and comes on leathery wings with breath of fire. Seems like marriage is too important to talk about just the prissy, chocolate flavored stuff.

So next time you get married please consider this:

O Tell Me The Truth About Love

Some say love's a little boy,
And some say it's a bird,
Some say it makes the world go around,
Some say that's absurd,
And when I asked the man next-door,
Who looked as if he knew,
His wife got very cross indeed,
And said it wouldn't do.

Does it look like a pair of pyjamas,
Or the ham in a temperance hotel?
Does its odour remind one of llamas,
Or has it a comforting smell?
Is it prickly to touch as a hedge is,
Or soft as eiderdown fluff?
Is it sharp or quite smooth at the edges?
O tell me the truth about love.

Our history books refer to it
In cryptic little notes,
It's quite a common topic on
The Transatlantic boats;
I've found the subject mentioned in
Accounts of suicides,
And even seen it scribbled on
The backs of railway guides.

Does it howl like a hungry Alsatian,
Or boom like a military band?
Could one give a first-rate imitation
On a saw or a Steinway Grand?
Is its singing at parties a riot?
Does it only like Classical stuff?
Will it stop when one wants to be quiet?
O tell me the truth about love.

I looked inside the summer-house;
It wasn't over there;
I tried the Thames at Maidenhead,
And Brighton's bracing air.
I don't know what the blackbird sang,
Or what the tulip said;
But it wasn't in the chicken-run,
Or underneath the bed.

Can it pull extraordinary faces?
Is it usually sick on a swing?
Does it spend all its time at the races,
or fiddling with pieces of string?
Has it views of its own about money?
Does it think Patriotism enough?
Are its stories vulgar but funny?
O tell me the truth about love.

When it comes, will it come without warning
Just as I'm picking my nose?
Will it knock on my door in the morning,
Or tread in the bus on my toes?
Will it come like a change in the weather?
Will its greeting be courteous or rough?
Will it alter my life altogether?
O tell me the truth about love.

WH Auden


  1. Love that. Thanks!

    Already got the Auden one from 4 Weddings and a Funeral on hold for my dad's funeral... not sure he knows that... good thing he's not a blog reader...

  2. Audin is my FAVORITE. Has been since I was in college taking all my lit classes. so good.

  3. They put all that on the subway?? It'd take me month of commuting to read it all!