Lay your sleeping head, my love, Human on my faithless arm; Time and fevers burn away Individual beauty from Thoughtful children, and the grave Proves the child ephemeral: But in my arms till break of day Let the living creature lie, Mortal, guilty, but to me The entirely beautiful. Soul and body have no bounds: To lovers as they lie upon Her tolerant enchanted slope In their ordinary swoon, Grave the vision Venus sends Of supernatural sympathy, Universal love and hope; While an abstract insight wakes Among the glaciers and the rocks The hermit's carnal ecstasy. Certainty, fidelity On the stroke of midnight pass Like vibrations of a bell, And fashionable madmen raise Their pedantic boring cry: Every farthing of the cost, All the dreaded cards foretell, Shall be paid, but from this night Not a whisper, not a thought, Not a kiss nor look be lost. Beauty, midnight, vision dies: Let the winds of dawn that blow Softly round your dreaming head Such a day of welcome show Eye and knocking heart may bless, Find the mortal world enough; Noons of dryness find you fed By the involuntary powers, Nights of insult let you pass Watched by every human love.
From Another Time by W. H. Auden, published by Random House. Copyright © 1940 W. H. Auden, renewed by the Estate of W. H. Auden. Used by permission of Curtis Brown, Ltd.