When there are so many we shall have to mourn, when grief has been made so public, and exposed to the critique of a whole epoch the frailty of our conscience and anguish, of whom shall we speak? For every day they die among us, those who were doing us some good, who knew it was never enough but hoped to improve a little by living. Such was this doctor: still at eighty he wished to think of our life from whose unruliness so many plausible young futures with threats or flattery ask obedience, but his wish was denied him: he closed his eyes upon that last picture, common to us all, of problems like relatives gathered puzzled and jealous about our dying. For about him till the very end were still those he had studied, the fauna of the night, and shades that still waited to enter the bright circle of his recognition turned elsewhere with their disappointment as he was taken away from his life interest to go back to the earth in London, an important Jew who died in exile. Only Hate was happy, hoping to augment his practice now, and his dingy clientele who think they can be cured by killing and covering the garden with ashes. They are still alive, but in a world he changed simply by looking back with no false regrets; all he did was to remember like the old and be honest like children. He wasn't clever at all: he merely told the unhappy Present to recite the Past like a poetry lesson till sooner or later it faltered at the line where long ago the accusations had begun, and suddenly knew by whom it had been judged, how rich life had been and how silly, and was life-forgiven and more humble, able to approach the Future as a friend without a wardrobe of excuses, without a set mask of rectitude or an embarrassing over-familiar gesture. No wonder the ancient cultures of conceit in his technique of unsettlement foresaw the fall of princes, the collapse of their lucrative patterns of frustration: if he succeeded, why, the Generalised Life would become impossible, the monolith of State be broken and prevented the co-operation of avengers. Of course they called on God, but he went his way down among the lost people like Dante, down to the stinking fosse where the injured lead the ugly life of the rejected, and showed us what evil is, not, as we thought, deeds that must be punished, but our lack of faith, our dishonest mood of denial, the concupiscence of the oppressor. If some traces of the autocratic pose, the paternal strictness he distrusted, still clung to his utterance and features, it was a protective coloration for one who'd lived among enemies so long: if often he was wrong and, at times, absurd, to us he is no more a person now but a whole climate of opinion under whom we conduct our different lives: Like weather he can only hinder or help, the proud can still be proud but find it a little harder, the tyrant tries to make do with him but doesn't care for him much: he quietly surrounds all our habits of growth and extends, till the tired in even the remotest miserable duchy have felt the change in their bones and are cheered till the child, unlucky in his little State, some hearth where freedom is excluded, a hive whose honey is fear and worry, feels calmer now and somehow assured of escape, while, as they lie in the grass of our neglect, so many long-forgotten objects revealed by his undiscouraged shining are returned to us and made precious again; games we had thought we must drop as we grew up, little noises we dared not laugh at, faces we made when no one was looking. But he wishes us more than this. To be free is often to be lonely. He would unite the unequal moieties fractured by our own well-meaning sense of justice, would restore to the larger the wit and will the smaller possesses but can only use for arid disputes, would give back to the son the mother's richness of feeling: but he would have us remember most of all to be enthusiastic over the night, not only for the sense of wonder it alone has to offer, but also because it needs our love. With large sad eyes its delectable creatures look up and beg us dumbly to ask them to follow: they are exiles who long for the future that lives in our power, they too would rejoice if allowed to serve enlightenment like him, even to bear our cry of 'Judas', as he did and all must bear who serve it. One rational voice is dumb. Over his grave the household of Impulse mourns one dearly loved: sad is Eros, builder of cities, and weeping anarchic Aphrodite.
As I Walked Out One Evening
As I walked out one evening,
Walking down Bristol Street,
The crowds upon the pavement
Were fields of harvest wheat.
And down by the brimming river
I heard a lover sing
Under an arch of the railway:
'Love has no ending.
'I'll love you, dear, I'll love you
Till China and Africa meet,
And the river jumps over the mountain
And the salmon sing in the street,
'I'll love you till the ocean
Is folded and hung up to dry
And the seven stars go squawking
Like geese about the sky.
'The years shall run like rabbits,
For in my arms I hold
The Flower of the Ages,
And the first love of the world.'
But all the clocks in the city
Began to whirr and chime:
'O let not Time deceive you,
You cannot conquer Time.
'In the burrows of the Nightmare
Where Justice naked is,
Time watches from the shadow
And coughs when you would kiss.
'In headaches and in worry
Vaguely life leaks away,
And Time will have his fancy
To-morrow or to-day.
'Into many a green valley
Drifts the appalling snow;
Time breaks the threaded dances
And the diver's brilliant bow.
'O plunge your hands in water,
Plunge them in up to the wrist;
Stare, stare in the basin
And wonder what you've missed.
'The glacier knocks in the cupboard,
The desert sighs in the bed,
And the crack in the tea-cup opens
A lane to the land of the dead.
'Where the beggars raffle the banknotes
And the Giant is enchanting to Jack,
And the Lily-white Boy is a Roarer,
And Jill goes down on her back.
'O look, look in the mirror,
O look in your distress:
Life remains a blessing
Although you cannot bless.
'O stand, stand at the window
As the tears scald and start;
You shall love your crooked neighbour
With your crooked heart.'
It was late, late in the evening,
The lovers they were gone;
The clocks had ceased their chiming,
And the deep river ran on.