In Praise Of Limestone Poem Rhyme Scheme and Analysis


If it form the one landscape that we the inconstant onesA
Are consistently homesick for this is chieflyB
Because it dissolves in water Mark these rounded slopesC
With their surface fragrance of thyme and beneathD
A secret system of caves and conduits hear the springsE
That spurt out everywhere with a chuckleF
Each filling a private pool for its fish and carvingG
Its own little ravine whose cliffs entertainH
The butterfly and the lizard examine this regionI
Of short distances and definite placesJ
What could be more like Mother or a fitter backgroundK
For her son the flirtatious male who loungesL
Against a rock in the sunlight never doubtingG
That for all his faults he is loved whose works are butM
Extensions of his power to charm From weathered outcropN
To hill top temple from appearing waters toO
Conspicuous fountains from a wild to a formal vineyardP
Are ingenious but short steps that a child's wishQ
To receive more attention than his brothers whetherR
By pleasing or teasing can easily takeS
Watch then the band of rivals as they climb up and downT
Their steep stone gennels in twos and threes at timesU
Arm in arm but never thank God in step or engagedV
On the shady side of a square at midday inW
Voluble discourse knowing each other too well to thinkX
There are any important secrets unableF
To conceive a god whose temper tantrums are moralF
And not to be pacified by a clever lineY
Or a good lay for accustomed to a stone that respondsZ
They have never had to veil their faces in aweA2
Of a crater whose blazing fury could not be fixedB2
Adjusted to the local needs of valleysC2
Where everything can be touched or reached by walkingG
Their eyes have never looked into infinite spaceD2
Through the lattice work of a nomad's comb born luckyB
Their legs have never encountered the fungiE2
And insects of the jungle the monstrous forms and livesF2
With which we have nothing we like to hope in commonI
So when one of them goes to the bad the way his mind worksG2
Remains incomprehensible to become a pimpN
Or deal in fake jewellery or ruin a fine tenor voiceH2
For effects that bring down the house could happen to allI2
But the best and the worst of usJ2
That is why I supposeK2
The best and worst never stayed here long but soughtL2
Immoderate soils where the beauty was not so externalF
The light less public and the meaning of lifeM2
Something more than a mad camp 'Come ' cried the granite wastesN2
How evasive is your humour how accidentalF
Your kindest kiss how permanent is death Saints to beB
Slipped away sighing Come purred the clays and gravelsN2
On our plains there is room for armies to drill riversN2
Wait to be tamed and slaves to construct you a tombO2
In the grand manner soft as the earth is mankind and bothP2
Need to be altered Intendant Caesars rose andQ2
Left slamming the door But the really reckless were fetchedR2
By an older colder voice the oceanic whisperR
I am the solitude that asks and promises nothingG
That is how I shall set you free There is no loveS2
There are only the various envies all of them sadT2
They were right my dear all those voices were rightU2
And still are this land is not the sweet home that it looksN2
Nor its peace the historical calm of a siteU2
Where something was settled once and for all A back wardV2
And dilapidated province connectedW2
To the big busy world by a tunnel with a certainI
Seedy appeal is that all it is now Not quiteU2
It has a worldy duty which in spite of itselfX2
It does not neglect but calls into questionI
All the Great Powers assume it disturbs our rights The poetM
Admired for his earnest habit of callingG
The sun the sun his mind Puzzle is made uneasyN2
By these marble statues which so obviously doubtY2
His antimythological myth and these gaminsN2
Pursuing the scientist down the tiled colonnadeZ2
With such lively offers rebuke his concern for Nature'sN2
Remotest aspects I too am reproached for whatM
And how much you know Not to lose time not to get caughtA3
Not to be left behind not please to resembleF
The beasts who repeat themselves or a thing like waterR
Or stone whose conduct can be predicted theseN2
Are our common prayer whose greatest comfort is musicB3
Which can be made anywhere is invisibleF
And does not smell In so far as we have to look forwardP
To death as a fact no doubt we are right But ifC3
Sins can be forgiven if bodies rise from the deadD3
These modifications of matter intoO
Innocent athletes and gesticulating fountainsN2
Made solely for pleasure make a further pointE3
The blessed will not care what angle they are regarded fromF3
Having nothing to hide Dear I know nothing ofS2
Either but when I try to imagine a faultless loveS2
Or the life to come what I hear is the murmurR
Of underground streams what I see is a limestone landscapeN

W. H. Auden


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