LADY, WEEPING AT THE CROSSROADS by W.H. Auden

“Lady, weeping at the crossroads

Would you meet your love

In the twilight with his greyhounds,

And the hawk on his glove?

 

Bribe the birds then on the branches,

Bribe them to be dumb,

Stare the hot sun out of heaven

That the night may come.

 

Starless are the nights of travel,

Bleak the winter wind;

Run with terror all before you

And regret behind.

 

Run until you hear the ocean’s

Everlasting cry;

Deep though it may be and bitter

You must drink it dry.

 

Wear out patience in the lowest

Dungeons of the sea,

Searching through the stranded shipwrecks

For the golden key.

 

Push on to the world’s end, pay the

Dread guard with a kiss;

Cross the rotten bridge that totters

Over the abyss.

 

There stands the deserted castle

Ready to explore;

Enter, climb the marble staircase

Open the locked door.

 

Cross the silent empty ballroom,

Doubt and danger past;

Blow the cobwebs from the mirror

See yourself at last.

 

Put your hand behind the wainscot,

You have done your part;

Find the penknife there and plunge it

Into your false heart.”

the-fourteen-daggers-1942

Kay Sage, “The Fourteen Daggers”

 

 

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22 Responses to LADY, WEEPING AT THE CROSSROADS by W.H. Auden

  1. ptero9 says:

    I guess she said no. 🙂

  2. roughghosts says:

    Auden is a touchstone for me at this point, thank you for sharing. It is frightening to truly explore and face our true selves but necessary if we are to come to know who we are.

  3. Auden, truly one of the best in his genre — I believe. Such promise; such loss. His word choice and syntax — beautiful and flowing.

    It doesn’t hurt that one of my favorite words is abyss. 🙂 And when coupled with bridge, followed by castle…

  4. lampmagician says:

    Reblogged this on lampmagician and commented:
    A wonderful poetry! ♥

  5. Pingback: LADY, WEEPING AT THE CROSSROADS by W.H. Auden | lampmagician

  6. Beautiful. I was just looking up his birthday and noticed he has an early Pisces Sun which makes perfect sense. I also saw that today is his death day. Knowing you, you probably realized this. This poem is a transcendent tribute to a poet who inspired humankind to dig deeper through doubt and fear to boldly embark on a journey of true heart.

    • Hi Gray, you give me too much credit with Auden because i did not know this was his death anniversary when I posted this. Pisces Sun, Pisces Mercury – make perfect sense with Auden, who was a quiet, benevolent man doing private acts of kindness and not expecting any accolades in return. His beautiful biography matches the beauty of his poetry, I think. What a generous and honorable man:
      http://www.nybooks.com/articles/archives/2014/mar/20/secret-auden/

      • Sounds like a Pisces: “He was disgusted by his early fame because he saw the mixed motives behind his image of public virtue, the gratification he felt in being idolized and admired. He felt degraded when asked to pronounce on political and moral issues about which, he reminded himself, artists had no special insight. Far from imagining that artists were superior to anyone else, he had seen in himself that artists have their own special temptations toward power and cruelty and their own special skills at masking their impulses from themselves.”

        Thank you for letting me know about another Pisces Mercury. I think Mercury in Pisces actually has one of the most impressive groups of associated writers, despite its label as being in detriment and fall. Though when people say those labels mean a more spiritual and less material quality, then maybe that is the reason for the label.

      • This is something that really struck me:

        “Later, he realized that he had always preferred to write as if addressing an individual reader. He might have thousands of individual readers, but he wrote as if speaking to one. ‘All the poems I have written were written for love,’ he said; ‘naturally, when I have written one, I try to market it, but the prospect of a market played no role in its writing.’”

  7. Beautiful poem. Great choice of art by Kay Sage. Nothing like a pen knife plunged into a false heart.

  8. Auden !!! I love this piece. 🙂

  9. Pingback: “Lady, Weeping at the Crossroads” by W. H. Auden | Stuff Jeff Reads

  10. Interesting. I came here via Jeff’s post, and after having posted something myself this morning, on a similar “crossroads” topic, and so, in a way, I’m interpreting this poem through that. At the end, she plunges the knife into her “false heart” after having seen herself in a mirror brushed free of cobwebs, perhaps denoting a neglected part of herself. Perhaps the crossroads is between the false life she is living and the life that was taken from her by her own neglect of it. Interesting too, that the knife she plunges is a pen-knife: the pen, perhaps being a symbol of the creative life.

    Well, if so, it fits perfectly with my post, where I confess that while I’ve been turning the corner (crossing over) into the life I desire, as a writer, I haven’t yet completed the crossing. I have yet to “drink the bitter ocean dry,” to “cross the rotten bridge that totters over the abyss.” I feel I need to take the “plunge,” over that abyss. The metaphor of standing on a precipice, ready to leap–has long been a part of my writing vocabulary. Here, the plunge is into the false heart. Much to think about. Thank you.

    • The right poems always find me at the right time. There are no coincidences whatsoever. Thank you for breaking down the poem so beautifully and relating it to your personal experience. I wish you every success in your daring endeavor.
      Thank you very much for your thoughts.
      Monika

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