At the Party by W H Auden

by Regis Boff

Poetry plods uphill while prose leisurely  trusts that many words will lure the reader not to give up. What I have realised in trying to write is that persuading the reader not to leave is everything. It uses the same tactic I employed when I was young trying to keep a girl with me at a party. There are two lines in this poem by Auden that describe that struggle perfectly. All they need is a pretty girl.    Regis Boff

“You cannot read me like an open book.
I’m more myself than you will ever look.”

At the Party
by W H Auden

Unrhymed, unrhythmical, the chatter goes:
Yet no one hears his own remarks as prose.

Beneath each topic tunelessly discussed
The ground-bass is reciprocal mistrust.

The names in fashion shuttling to and fro
Yield, when deciphered, messages of woe.

You cannot read me like an open book.
I’m more myself than you will ever look.

Will no one listen to my little song?

Perhaps I shan’t be with you very long.

A howl for recognition, shrill with fear,
Shakes the jam-packed apartment, but each ear
Is listening to its hearing, so none hear.