On the Circuit
Among pelagian travelers, Lost on their lewd conceited way To Massachusetts, Michigan, Miami or L.A., An airborne instrument I sit, Predestined nightly to fulfill Columbia-Giesen-Management's Unfathomable will, By whose election justified, I bring my gospel of the Muse To fundamentalists, to nuns, to Gentiles and to Jews, And daily, seven days a week, Before a local sense has jelled, From talking-site to talking-site Am jet-or-prop-propelled. Though warm my welcome everywhere, I shift so frequently, so fast, I cannot now say where I was The evening before last, Unless some singular event Should intervene to save the place, A truly asinine remark, A soul-bewitching face, Or blessed encounter, full of joy, Unscheduled on the Giesen Plan, With, here, an addict of Tolkien, There, a Charles Williams fan. Since Merit but a dunghill is, I mount the rostrum unafraid: Indeed, 'twere damnable to ask If I am overpaid. Spirit is willing to repeat Without a qualm the same old talk, But Flesh is homesick for our snug Apartment in New York. A sulky fifty-six, he finds A change of mealtime utter hell, Grown far too crotchety to like A luxury hotel. The Bible is a goodly book I always can peruse with zest, But really cannot say the same For Hilton's Be My Guest. Nor bear with equanimity The radio in students' cars, Muzak at breakfast, or--dear God!-- Girl-organists in bars. Then, worst of all, the anxious thought, Each time my plane begins to sink And the No Smoking sign comes on: What will there be to drink? Is this a milieu where I must How grahamgreeneish! How infra dig! Snatch from the bottle in my bag An analeptic swig? Another morning comes: I see, Dwindling below me on the plane, The roofs of one more audience I shall not see again. God bless the lot of them, although I don't remember which was which: God bless the U.S.A., so large, So friendly, and so rich.
From About the House by W. H. Auden, published by Random House. Copyright © 1965 by W. H. Auden, renewed by The Estate of W. H. Auden. Used by permission of Curtis Brown, Ltd.
W. H. Auden
W. H. Auden was admired for his unsurpassed technical virtuosity and ability to write poems in nearly every imaginable verse form; his incorporation of popular culture, current events, and vernacular speech in his work; and also for the vast range of his intellect, which drew easily from an extraordinary variety of literatures, art forms, social and political theories, and scientific and technical information.
Date Published: 1965-01-01
Source URL: https://poets.org/poem/circuit