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The Sabbath / W.H. Auden

Some pungent Wystan in this moment when it's hard to remain very positive about humanity's inherent goodness. It's such a lapidary poem. And the rupture in the rhyme scheme in the last two stanzas is very salty. And what seems like a simple, salutary poem is all left askew with the last line.

Here's to "beautiful, happy, perfectly pointless" days.

Waking on the Seventh Day of Creation,

They cautiously sniffed the air:

The most fastidious nostril among them admitted

That fellow was no longer there.

Herbivore, parasite, predator scouted,

Migrants flew fast and far --

Not a trace of his presence: holes in the earth

Beaches covered with tar,

Ruins and metallic rubbish in plenty

Were all that was left of him

Whose birth on the Sixth had made of that day

An unnecessary interim.

Well, that fellow had never really smelled

Like a creature that would survive:

No grace, address or faculty like those

Born on the First Five.

Back, then, at last on a natural economy,

Now His Impudence was gone,

Looking exactly like what it was,

The Seventh Day went on,

Beautiful, happy, perfectly pointless...

A rifle's ringing crack

Split the Arcadia wide open, cut

Their Sabbath nonsense short.

For whom did they think they had been created?

That fellow was back,

More bloody-minded than they remembered,

More god-like than they thought.

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