W. H. Auden–In Memory of Ernst Toller

Ernst Toller (1 December 1893 - 22 May 1939)


(d. May 1939)
The shining neutral summer has no voice
To judge America, or ask how a man dies;
And the friends who are sad and the enemies who rejoice

Are chased by their shadows lightly away from the grave
Of one who was egotistical and brave,
Lest they should learn without suffering how to forgive.

What was it, Ernst, that your shadow unwittingly said?
O did the child see something horrid in the woodshed
Long ago? Or had the Europe which took refuge in your head

Already been too injured to get well?
O for how long,like the swallows in that other cell,
Had the bright little longings been flying in to tell

About the big friendly death outside,
Where people do not occupy or hide;
No towns like Munich; no need to write?

Dear Ernst, lie shadowless at last among
The other war-horses who existed till they’d done
Something that was an example to the young.

We are lived by powers we pretend to understand:
They arrange our loves; it is they who direct at the end
The enemy bullet, the sickness, or even our hand.

It is their tomorrow hangs over the earth of the living
And all that we wish for our friends; but existing is believing
We know for whom we mourn and who is grieving.

W. H. Auden


~ by matt on 1 December 2010.

5 Responses to “W. H. Auden–In Memory of Ernst Toller”

  1. Download W B Yeats Poetry from Itunes Here- 32 Poems…

    […]W. H. Auden–In Memory of Ernst Toller « golempoem[…]…

  2. […] As W.H. Auden (who makes a cameo appearance in Funder’s novel) writes in his poem, “In Memory of Ernst Toller”: […]

  3. Reblogged this on penwithlit and commented:
    Interesting poem also see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ernst_Toller

  4. […] * The deposed president, Ernst Toller, “hanged himself” in 1939. Auden paid him tribute in moving verse. […]

  5. […] source […]

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Natalie E. Illum...

is a poet, performer and disability activist. Bring her stumbling to your city.

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