as i walked out one evening

as i walked out one evening
walking down Bristol Street
the crowds upon the pavement
were fields of harvest wheat

and down by the brimming river
i heard a lover sing
under an arch of the railway
'love has no ending

i'll love you, dear, I'll love you
till China and Africa meet
and the river jumps ovet the mountain
and the salmon sing in the street

i'll love you till the ocean
is folded and hung up to dry
and the seven stars go squarwking
like geese about the sky

the years shall run like rabbits
for in my arms i hold
the flower of the ages
and the first love of the world

but all the clocks in the city
began to whirr and Chime
O let not time decive you
you can not conquer time

in the burrows of the nightmare
where justice is naked
time watches from the shadow
and coughs when you would kiss

in headaches and in worry vaguely life leaks away
and time will have his fancy
tomorrow or today

into many a green valley
drifts the appalling snow
time breaks the threaded dancers
and the drivers brilliant bow

'o plunge your hands in water
plunge them up to the wrist
stare, stare in the basin
and wonder what you've missed

the glacier knocks in the cupboard
the desert sighs in the bed
and the crack in the teacup opens
a lane to the land of the dead

where the beggars raffle the banknotes
and the giant is enchanting to Jack
and the lily-white boy is a roarer
and jill goes down on her back

'o look, look in the mirror
o look in your distress
life remains a blessing
although you can not bless

'o stand, stand at the window
as the tears scold and start
you will love your crooked neighbour
with your crooked heart

it was late, late in the evening
the lovers they were gone
the clocks had ceased their chiming
and the the deep river ran on.

W.H.Auden Nov. 1937