AUDEN’s uncertainty.

It’s exactly fifty years since we were wed, on a snowy day, January 2nd, 1971, at Aldershot Registry Office, and today feels very like that. We didn’t know then about the disaster at the Ibrox Stadium when 66 people died and over 100 were crushed and injured. No danger of that happening today with social distancing and Covid putting the mockers on all social or sporting events, but there is a feeling that Armageddon is not far away all the same.

It’s a long time ago, fifty years, and many of the people I love now weren’t born then. Some had already died. Others are waiting for their turn to enter the world.

Auden’s villanelle, ‘If I could tell you‘ written in 1940 at the start of WW2, echoes the uncertainty we feel today, and the villanelle form with its circular and repeated phrasing seems the perfect vehicle for this:

Time will say nothing but I told you so,
Time only knows the price we have to pay;
If I could tell you I would let you know.

If we should weep when clowns put on their show,
If we should stumble when musicians play,
Time will say nothing but I told you so.

There are no fortunes to be told, although,
Because I love you more than I can say,
If I could tell you I would let you know.
Auden, 1940

The choices that we make outlive us. Everything changes, yet some constants remain. Love, oblivion, death. Plus ca change, plus c’est la meme chose. Reflecting on the past year, maybe we have needed a dose of reality away from the consumer rat race to focus on our real concerns.

Time will say nothing but I told you so…

22 Responses

  1. Oyeyipo Oladele

    The poetry about time is something I love most and cherish. A new year poem and best poems of all time for all. Thanks for this reasonable post.

  2. Wilson Jake

    This poetry about new beginnings is really right on time. Just what we need to keep us focus and determined for the journey ahead. God help us

  3. Prince

    These are very old piece but are a new year poem for me. Most of this a special and unique piece. Lovely one guys

  4. Meldred Judith

    New year poem is just very timely. Time is the only infinite thing in the world. It’s endless and great.

  5. Alex

    I have read a few poetry about time when I was in school and this is very timely ” NO PUN” intended. It is a new year so trying new things is in order. Happy New year everyone.

  6. jolly555

    A lovely new year poem to encourage one to keep striving aganist all odds . it really nice reading this, this early

  7. ALMA

    I think this will be one of the best poems of all time. This is the first poem I read this opening of the year.

  8. Harry

    A good poetry about new beginnings. It talks about time that can be used judiciously to achieve a lot before time runs out

  9. Meg W

    I couldn’t really have asked for a better new year poem. Thanks a ton for sharing this 🙂

  10. Patricia

    I think this should be among the best poems of all time. It is so very relatable and true.

  11. Oliver

    There is no better way to usher in the new year than with poetry about new beginnings. This came just at the right time for me.

  12. Daphne

    I will be sure to add this to my collection of best lovely poetry. I am surprised I never heard of it before.

  13. Teddy

    This makes a nice changing poem for those looking to make some significant changes in their lives. Indeed, after 2020, many will be changing.

  14. Louis

    I have read a fair bit of poetry about time. This however does stand out in a big way.

  15. Shantel

    I really appreciate the insightful new year poem. I will definitely bookmark this for future reference.

  16. Anderson

    In my opinion categorizing this as one of the best poems of all time wouldn’t be far fetched. It has all the makings of a classic poem.

  17. Storm

    It’s not often that we see poetry about new beginnings that speak to our souls so sincerely. That makes the poem a truly unique one.

  18. Sylvia

    Your post has made me want to find even more poetry about time. I am so glad I bumped into this

  19. Many poets have written about time. Whether it’s Shelley writing about Ozymandias, or ‘Time, you old gypsy man, Will you not stay… by Ralph Hodgson, in which Time is described as a gypsy, always moving on. We can all relate to that. If Covid were a person, I wonder what it would look like, and how it would describe its journey…

  20. Danielle M

    I can tell that humanity has passed by very critical times when artists get the value to turn all that into something better like a poem, a painting and share it with the world that’s very special.

  21. Erini

    This is a very touching story, it’s always good to know what’s in the mind of the artist when they do their magic. It’s not always something sweet or tender but it’s something that comes from deep themselves.

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