Adrian Paul Allinson
"The AFS Dig for Victory in St James's Square" (1942)
Their Lonely Betters
As I listened from a beach-chair in the shade
To all the noises that my garden made,
It seemed to me only proper that words
Should be withheld from vegetables and birds.
A robin with no Christian name ran through
The Robin-Anthem which was all it knew,
And rustling flowers for some third party waited
To say which pairs, if any, should get mated.
Not one of them was capable of lying,
There was not one which knew that it was dying
Or could have with a rhythm or a rhyme
Assumed responsibility for time.
Let them leave language to their lonely betters
Who count some days and long for certain letters;
We, too, make noises when we laugh or weep:
Words are for those with promises to keep.
W. H. Auden, Nones (1951).
The final line brings to mind the final stanza of Robert Frost's "Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening":
The woods are lovely, dark and deep,
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep.
Robert Frost, New Hampshire (1923).
The echo of Frost is presumably intentional. Auden's "A Thanksgiving," written in the last year of his life, begins as follows:
When pre-pubescent I felt
that moorlands and woodlands were sacred:
people seemed rather profane.
Thus, when I started to verse,
I presently sat at the feet of
Hardy and Thomas and Frost.
W. H. Auden, Thank You, Fog (1974) (italics in original). "Thomas" refers to Edward Thomas.
Adrian Paul Allinson, "The Cornish April"