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Auden’s Shadow
by Ed Bennett

“No hero is mortal ‘till he dies.”
- WH Auden

Achilles’ shield was your mirror,
the classics etched in our history
from mouth to ear, to the written word
meant to draw ones eyes
past the far horizon
rather than the mire
that abrades the soul,
saps the sentiment.

In Dante’s shoes you travelled,
sought the hidden love of ages
with the dissolute mien
of cigarettes and afternoon martinis,
always the teacher,
the prophet of a bastard century
dipped in bloddy wars
up to the heel,
the one weak spot
where you found decency,
the warm lipped splendor
of human understanding.

When the ploughshares broke
beneath the fire of atomic hate
you sought the more loving one
in every cosmic strophe,
in every civilized place
where lovers held their dreams
and candle light danced
in their carnal whispers.

Words will stand
in the fullness of ages,
the tenebrous reach of your life
still calls the dance of a poet’s pen

but it is the lullaby
for those who join their souls
that makes you immortal
as the dust of history
settles on your finite bones.

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