Sunday Poem

“The devil took Jesus to a high mountain
and showed him all the world and said, I'll
give you all of this if you'll worship me.”

The Third Temptation

He watched with all his organs of concern
How princes walk, what wives and children say;
Re-opened old graves in his heart to learn
What laws the dead had died to disobey.

And came reluctantly to his conclusion:
“All the arm-chair philosophers are false;
To love another adds to the confusion;
The song of pity is the Devil's Waltz.”

And bowed to fate and was successful so
that he was king of all the creatures:
Yet, shaking in his autumn nightmare, saw,

Approaching down a ruined corridor,
A figure with his own distorted features
That wept, and grew enormous, and cried Woe.

by W.H. Auden
from Selected Poems
Vintage Books, 1975