Darkness Promotes Speech (Light Is Silent)

O stern proconsul of intractable provinces,
O poet of the difficult, dear addicted artist,
     Assent to my soil and flower.

As Aristotle informed us, a plot
is only monstrous & not tragic if
no one suffers, that about does it,
then, not riot with indifference
toward wisdom of the ancients, much
indebted, in fact, to my betters,
those sages of letters, paragon-
exemplars of temperance and mild

manners, I listen well, within my
element, my mind’s legendary
tolerance for calamity ends
in your song, much-maligned drivel, that
beat’s ostentatiously-rhymed spittle
over-ripe with precocious hints of
over-wrought confidence, my over-
zealous ponderings have flaunted too

publicly my internal chaos,
its incontinence pouring out with
consistency confessions of what
crimes of immodesty I indulge
so alliteratively, the grey-
mouthed, pernicious, gunmetal torment
of which contracts but not enough to
counteract the contradictory

vibrance of my resonant wit, is
ebullient yet perhaps a misuse
of it, turbulence by which heaven
tried to heal me with weak split-lipped faith’s
ineffable pain, what is written
should never be forgotten lest it
join the ashes of its masters, the
shame of a second death dissipates

its sting, books are the best of friends, they
have unlimited patience, they don’t
require that I pretend, only that
I share with them each all of my own
experiences which they have known
and informed, recording a life we
have together written, one which will
never end so long as we trust in

the holiest survival of the
word, and continue to cherish as
sacred as Borges and Manguel did
the library where darkness promotes
speech and light is silent: this is true
illumination and why what I
write is meant to offend plenty and
alienate the many for whom

total confusion is very much
a common occurrence, only the
few can read with understanding, and
without harming the delicacy
of their senses, between the lines of
all my allegèd indecency’s
ranting lyrics, the smut of those most
ribald sentences revealing my

filthy secrets, texts availing the
really adventurous a method
which underlies and justifies my
madness, what thickens my plot is not
even slightly intended for thick-
headed audiences, solitude
is a god-send and preferable
to the company of idiots.

1W. H. Auden, “[Poem] 66. At the Grave of Henry James”, [Stanza 5, Lines 28–30], in Selected Poems: Expanded Edition: Edited by Edward Mendelson, published at New York by Vintage International in 2007; page 128.