In Praise of Limestone (excerpt)

…”Come!” cried the granite wastes,
“How evasive is your humor, how accidental
Your kindest kiss, how permanent is death.” (Saints-to-be
Slipped away sighing.) “Come!” purred the clays and the gravels,
“On our plains there is room for armies to drill; rivers
Wait to be tamed and slaves to construct you a tomb
In the grand manner: soft as the earth is mankind and both
Need to be altered.” (Intendant Caesars rose and
Left, slamming the door.) But the really reckless were fetched
By an older colder voice, the oceanic whisper:
“I am the solitude that asks and promises nothing;
That is how I shall set you free. There is no love;
There is only the various envies, all of them sad.”

They were right, my dear, all those voices were right
And still are; this land is not the sweet home that it looks,

—W.H Auden, “In Praise of Limestone,” (1948). Oxford University Press, New York: 2001.

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