Bashō's Road

to the small poem and the quiet voice within

w.h. auden

Editor’s Note: Sometimes you find poetry where you least expect it…this article for example, I was reading in The New Yorker the other night, “HEART TO HEART, the White Light Festival at Lincoln Center” by Alex Ross, the music critic. In discussing a fascinating concert (“exploration of music and art’s power to reveal the many dimensions of our interior lives,” according to Jane Moss, Lincoln Center’s artistic director), Ross relates that Auden, near the end of his life would occasionally attend a Russian Orthodox church in the East Village. “Thank God, though I know what is going on, I don’t understand a single thing,” Auden said. “To pray is to pay attention or, shall we say, to ‘listen’ to someone or something other than oneself,” wrote Auden a few years before his death in 1970. Among the final poems he left us was this haiku. — Norbert Blei


He has never seen God,
but, once or twice, he believes
he has heard Him.

W.H. Auden

[from THE NEW YORKER, Nov. 14, 2011]

7 Comments

  1. That’s all it takes.

  2. A few years ago I might have posted this near my desk. Now, since Michelle Bachman has said that God is telling her what to do, I can see the danger in it. Sorry, W.H.

  3. Amen.
    17 times
    amen.

    no
    said the centipede
    crossing her legs
    100 times
    no

  4. Just watched a movie about Moses played by Ben Kingsley, and when God talked to him he heard his own voice which didn’t appear to trouble him. He listened intently. Who’s to know! Perhaps only the listener?

  5. Thanks Norb,
    Intolerance and ignorance on all sides. These Stalinists don’t speak to me. As a Christian in the tradition of Dorothy Day and the Catholic Workers (check them out). Here’s my reply:

    I’ve never seen God,
    but have heard ten thousand frogs
    roar their approval.

    best, Leonard

    best, Leonard

  6. Worth it to see Caroline Binch’s extraordinary painting.

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