Unknown to you, I walk the cheerless shore.
The cutting blast, the hurl of biting brine,
May freeze, and still, and bind the waves at war,
Ere you will ever know, O! Heart of mine,
That I have sought, reflected in the blue
Of these sea depths, some shadow of your eyes;
Have hoped the laughing waves would sing of you,
But this is all my starving sight descries—
Far out at sea a sail
Bends to the freshening breeze,
Yields to the rising gale,
That sweeps the seas;
Yields, as a bird wind-tossed,
To saltish waves that fling
Their spray, whose rime and frost
Like crystals cling
To canvas, mast and spar,
Till, gleaming like a gem,
She sinks beyond the far
Lost to my longing sight,
And nothing left to me
Save an oncoming night,—
An empty sea.
This poem is in the public domain. Published in Poem-a-Day on May 30, 2020 by the Academy of American Poets.
Looking up at the stars, I know quite well
That, for all they care, I can go to hell,
But on earth indifference is the least
We have to dread from man or beast.
How should we like it were stars to burn
With a passion for us we could not return?
If equal affection cannot be,
Let the more loving one be me.
Admirer as I think I am
Of stars that do not give a damn,
I cannot, now I see them, say
I missed one terribly all day.
Were all stars to disappear or die,
I should learn to look at an empty sky
And feel its total dark sublime,
Though this might take me a little time.
From Homage to Clio by W. H. Auden, published by Random House. Copyright © 1960 W. H. Auden, renewed by the Estate of W. H. Auden. Used by permission of Curtis Brown, Ltd.