The New York Review of Books is celebrating National Poetry Month by posting a poem everyday. Happy National Poetry Month everyone!
ODE TO THE DIENCEPHALON by W.H. Auden– NOVEMBER 30, 1972
(after A. T. W. Simeons)
How can you be quite so uncouth? After sharing
the same skull for all these millennia, surely
you should have discovered the cortical I is
a compulsive liar.
He has never learned you, it seems, about fig-leaves
or fire or ploughshares or vines or policemen,
that bolting or cringing can seldom earth a
We are dared every day by guilty phobias,
nightmares of missing the bus or being laughed at,
but goose-flesh, the palpitations, the squitters
won’t flabbergast them.
When you could really help us, you don’t. If only,
whenever the trumpet cries men to battle,
you would flash to their muscles the urgent order