Auden of course

     Excerpted* from   "For the time being"   A Christmas Oratorio                                                             

     *see note at end
    These are stirring times for the editors of newspapers:  History is in the making. Mankind is on the march.   The longest aqueduct in the world is already   under construction; the Committees on Fen-drainage  And Soil-Conservation will issue very shortly their Joint Report….
    ....and the recent restrictions upon aliens and free-thinking Jews are beginning   to have a salutary effect on public morale.   True ,the Western seas are still infested with pirates,  And the rising power of the Barbarians in the North   Is giving some cause for uneasiness; but we are fully  Alive to these dangers.......


                                                    The Massacre of the Innocents

    There is no visible disorder.No crime-what could be   more innocent than the birth of an artisan's child?              Today  has been one of those perfect winter days, cold,brilliant,  and utterly still,when the bark of a shepherd’s dog carries  for miles ,and the great wild mountains come up quite close  to city walls , and the mind feels intensely awake .........                                                                                                                                                                            ...nothing in the whole magnificent panorama of plain and mountains to indicate that the Empire is threatened by  a danger more dreadful than any invasion of Tartars on  racing camels of conspiracy of the Praetorian Guard.....

    Things are beginning to take shape. It is a long time since anyone  stole the park benches or murdered the swans.There are .........women of  forty who have never hidden in a ditch except for fun.Yes ,in twenty years  I have managed  to do a little. Not enough of course. There are villages few miles from  here where they still believe in witches. There isn’t a single town where  a good bookshop would pay ....... Still it is a beginning the darkness  has been pushed back a few inches. And what, after all, is the whole Empire........ but a tiny patch of light compared with the immense areas of barbaric night  that surround it on all sides........
    Today , apparently judging by the trio who came to see see me this morning with an ecstatic grin on their scholarly faces , the job has been done. “God has been born” they  cried “we have seen him ourselves. The World is saved.  Nothing else matters.”
     One needn’t  be much of a psychologist to realize that if  this rumor is not stamped out now, in a few years it is capable  of diseasing the whole Empire,........
     Reason will be replaced by Revelation. Instead of rational Law ,  objective truths ,perceptible to any who will undergo the necessary  intellectual discipline,......... knowledge will degenerate into a riot of subjective visions - ..........angelic images generated by fevers or drugs...
     Naturally this cannot be allowed to happen. Civilization  must be saved even if this means sending for the military,   as I suppose it does.   How dreary. Why is it that in the end  civilization always has to call in these professional tidiers to  whom it is all one whether it be Pythagoras or a homicidal  lunatic they are instructed to exterminate ? Oh dear, Why couldn’t  this wretched infant be born somewhere else? Why can't  people  be sensible? I don’t want to be horrid. Why can’t they see that the  notion of a finite God is absurd? Because it is.

    And suppose just for the sake of argument ,that it isn't ,that this story is true , that this child  is in some inexplicable manner both God and Man, that he grows up ,lives and dies, without committing a single sin? Would that make life any better? On the contrary, it would make if far,far worse. For it could only mean this;  that once having shown them how ,God would expect  every man, whatever his fortune , to lead a sinless life in the flesh and on earth. Then indeed would the human race be plunged into madness and despair.
     And for me personally at this moment it would mean  that God had given me the power to destroy Himself.                  I refuse to be taken  in .He could not play such a horrible practical joke. Why should He dislike  me so? I’ve worked like a slave. Ask anyone you’d like.I read all official dispatches without skipping. I’ve taken elocution lessons.I’ve hardly taken bribes. How dare He allow me to decide? I’ve tried to be good. I brush my teeth every night . I haven’t had sex for a month. I object. I’m a liberal. I want everyone to be happy  I wish I had never been born. 
     End of excerpt*
    Merry Christmas 


    * Note : This is a particular type of excerpt

    I intended to insert this note  when I submitted the above to  Dagblog but had a formatting problem for which I had first to obtain help. 

    Rather than make a general statement I'll describe what I did

     My Auden copy  devotes 59 pages  to  Part IV of  " For the Time Being".  My "excerpt" starts by  quoting from  the 27th page , beginning  with the Narrator's   "These are stirring times". After the words "Joint Report" I skipped to "And the recent restrictions". continuing to  "dangers".

    I  then skipped to 47th page of Part IV and the words  "The Massacre"   and "Herod"  then  skipped 24 lines and resumed excerpting  with "There is no visible"  .continuing to   "Praetorian Guard".

     The rest was done the same way: the  "excerpts"  follow the order in which they occurred in "For the Time Being" down to "I wish I had never been born"  

    Which I would say about myself -well sort of- if I felt this "excerpt"  damaged   Auden's memory., 

    Flavius ,








    Finally corrected.

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