1. Standard memberGrampy Bobby
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    25 Dec '13 09:26
    "This is a Christmas for grown-ups..."

    W. H. Auden's remarkable long poem FOR THE TIME BEING: A Christmas Oratorio was written during the dark times of World War II. The poem is about 1500 lines long, or 52 pages. (For comparison: Shakespeare's Macbeth is about 2100 lines long.) Unfortunately, the entire poem is under copyright and not available online. Here is a book containing the poem:
    W.H. Auden: Collected Poems, Modern Library,Hardcover, $26.40, 2007, 976 pages. Descriptions and Reviews:

    * Excerpt from an enthusiastic review: ... for a small band of faithful readers ... W. H. Auden's "For the Time Being," remains one of the most powerful expressions of the meaning of Christmas in the 20th century. With its metaphysical musings and theological underpinnings, the poem will never replace "The Night Before Christmas" or the seasonal pageant at Radio City Music Hall. But Auden's is a Christmas that can glimpse redemption even in the trivialization of Christmas, in the frantic shopping, distracted gaiety and unsuccessful attempts, as he says, to love all of our relatives. This is a Christmas for the day after Christmas. This is a Christmas for grown-ups.

    * Excerpt from a second enthusiastic review: [Auden's] concern in the poem is not simply to speak of the Nativity events but rather to draw out their incarnational impact upon the mundane world of the everyday. And what could be more boring, more deadeningly mundane, than the cabin-fever periods of February? Only a late-winter reading allows access to the deeper layers of meaning in the poem, because for Auden Christmas is ... an annual reminder that God has acted and is acting “to redeem from insignificance” the monotonous sludge of our everyday routines.

    Performance: December, 2008 at the Peter Norton Symphony Space in New York City: Written in 1942 when the world was at war, Auden's Oratorio is a parable that merges the Biblical and the contemporary with a result that is simultaneously audacious and poetic. Excerpts from the Poem: Last portion:
  2. Standard memberGrampy Bobby
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    25 Dec '13 09:27
    III
    Narrator
    Well, so that is that. Now we must dismantle the tree,
    Putting the decorations back into their cardboard boxes --
    Some have got broken -- and carrying them up to the attic.
    The holly and the mistletoe must be taken down and burnt,
    And the children got ready for school. There are enough
    Left-overs to do, warmed-up, for the rest of the week --
    Not that we have much appetite, having drunk such a lot,
    Stayed up so late, attempted -- quite unsuccessfully --
    To love all of our relatives, and in general
    Grossly overestimated our powers. Once again

    As in previous years we have seen the actual Vision and failed
    To do more than entertain it as an agreeable
    Possibility, once again we have sent Him away,

    Begging though to remain His disobedient servant,
    The promising child who cannot keep His word for long.
    The Christmas Feast is already a fading memory,
    And already the mind begins to be vaguely aware
    Of an unpleasant whiff of apprehension at the thought
    Of Lent and Good Friday which cannot, after all, now
    Be very far off. But, for the time being, here we all are,
    Back in the moderate Aristotelian city

    Of darning and the Eight-Fifteen, where Euclid's geometry
    And Newton's mechanics would account for our experience,
    And the kitchen table exists because I scrub it.

    It seems to have shrunk during the holidays. The streets
    Are much narrower than we remembered; we had forgotten
    The office was as depressing as this. To those who have seen
    The Child, however dimly, however incredulously,
    The Time Being is, in a sense, the most trying time of all.


    For the innocent children who whispered so excitedly
    Outside the locked door where they knew the presents to be
    Grew up when it opened.
    Now, recollecting that moment
    We can repress the joy, but the guilt remains conscious;
    Remembering the stable where for once in our lives
    Everything became a You and nothing was an It.
    And craving the sensation but ignoring the cause,
    We look round for something, no matter what, to inhibit
    Our self-reflection, and the obvious thing for that purpose
    Would be some great suffering.
    So, once we have met the Son,

    We are tempted ever after to pray to the Father;
    "Lead us into temptation and evil for our sake."
    They will come, all right, don't worry; probably in a form
    That we do not expect, and certainly with a force
    More dreadful than we can imagine. In the meantime
    There are bills to be paid, machines to keep in repair,
    Irregular verbs to learn, the Time Being to redeem
    From insignificance. The happy morning is over,
    The night of agony still to come;
    the time is noon:
    When the Spirit must practice his scales of rejoicing
    Without even a hostile audience, and the Soul endure
    A silence that is neither for nor against her faith
    That God's Will will be done, That, in spite of her prayers,
    God will cheat no one, not even the world of its triumph.

    -- W. H. Auden

    http://www.cs.utsa.edu/~wagner/church/auden/
  3. Joined
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    25 Dec '13 09:46
    Hmmm... none of that rhymes.
  4. Joined
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    25 Dec '13 09:57
    By the way, am I the only one who loves the first days of January? Suddenly everyone starts to act normal again. No frenzied buying sprees, no godawful, hideous christmas decorations (note how ugly it looks when people still have their Christmas decorations hanging after the first of January), no equally awful music on the radio, no fake plastic "holiday smiles".

    Back to normality.

    And winter has begun which often means snow together with sunlight. Beautiful.
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    25 Dec '13 10:44
    Originally posted by Great King Rat
    By the way, am I the only one who loves the first days of January? Suddenly everyone starts to act normal again. No frenzied buying sprees, no godawful, hideous christmas decorations (note how ugly it looks when people still have their Christmas decorations hanging after the first of January), no equally awful music on the radio, no fake plasti ...[text shortened]... to normality.

    And winter has begun which often means snow together with sunlight. Beautiful.
    wow I don't think even I am that cynical.
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    25 Dec '13 10:581 edit
    Normal is not equal to cynical...
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    25 Dec '13 11:11
    Originally posted by Great King Rat
    Normal is not equal to cynical...
    you called them plastic smiles - ouch
  8. SubscriberSuzianne
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    25 Dec '13 14:15
    Originally posted by Grampy Bobby
    III
    Narrator
    Well, so that is that. Now we must dismantle the tree,
    Putting the decorations back into their cardboard boxes --
    Some have got broken -- and carrying them up to the attic.
    The holly and the mistletoe must be taken down and burnt,
    And the children got ready for school. There are enough
    Left-overs to do, warmed-up, for the ...[text shortened]... the world of its triumph.[/i]

    -- W. H. Auden

    http://www.cs.utsa.edu/~wagner/church/auden/
    Thank you, Bob. Touching, and... poignant.
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    25 Dec '13 14:26
    Originally posted by robbie carrobie
    wow I don't think even I am that cynical.
    Ha! Happy Christmas robbie.
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    25 Dec '13 20:31
    Now I can't help but wonder who the two people are that "thumbed" me "up".

    Come on you, don't let me be the only cynical grinch of this freakshow 🙂
  11. Standard memberGrampy Bobby
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    26 Dec '13 04:36
    A Dozen Observations on Human Behavior from W. H. Auden

    "A real book is not one that we read, but one that reads us." [One reason people are threatened by God's Word]

    "All that we are not stares back at what we are." [Result: A lifetime devoted to erecting defense mechanisms]

    "Among those whom I like or admire, I can find no common denominator,
    but among those whom I love, I can; all of them make me laugh."

    "Behind the corpse in the reservoir, behind the ghost on the links,
    Behind the lady who dances and the man who madly drinks,
    Under the look of fatigue, the attack of migraine and the sigh
    There is always another story, there is more than meets the eye."

    "We would rather be ruined than changed. We would rather die in our
    dread than climb the cross of the moment and let our illusions die."
    [Wow!]

    "Whatever you do, good or bad, people will always have something negative to say." [Ever consider the reasons why?]

    "Every man carries with him through life a mirror, as unique and impossible to get rid of as his shadow." [Often unflattering]

    "Choice of attention--to pay attention to this and ignore that--is to the inner life what choice of action is to the outer. In both cases, a man is responsible for his choice and must accept the consequences, whatever they may be."

    "False enchantment can last a lifetime." [... with eternal consequences]

    "Thus, if a painter tries to portray the Seven Deadly Sins, his experience will furnish him readily enough with images symbolic of Gluttony, Lust, Sloth, Anger, Avarice, and Envy, for all these are qualities of a person’s relations to others and the world, but no experience can provide an image of Pride, for the relation it qualifies is the subjective relation of a person to himself. In the seventh frame, therefore, the painter can only place, in lieu of a canvas, a mirror."

    "God is Love, we are taught as children to believe. But when we first begin to get some inkling of how He loves us, we are repelled; it seems so cold, indeed, not love at all as we understand the word." [Because we equate divine with human love]

    "As readers, we remain in the nursery stage so long as we cannot distinguish between taste and judgment, so long, that is, as the only possible verdicts we can pass on a book are two: this I like; this I don't like. For an adult reader, the possible verdicts are five: I can see this is good and I like it; I can see this is good but I don't like it; I can see this is good and, though at present I don't like it, I believe that with perseverance I shall come to like it; I can see that this is trash but I like it; I can see that this is trash and I don't like it."
  12. Standard memberGrampy Bobby
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    26 Dec '13 04:39
    Originally posted by Suzianne
    Thank you, Bob. Touching, and... poignant.
    My pleasure, Suzi... and thank you for your numerous thoughtful contributions to this forum in 2013.
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