Tag Archives: W.H. Auden

Lullaby

I was reading W.H. Auden’s Lullaby today and I was struck by the lines:

Lay your sleeping head, my love,
Human on my faithless arm;
Time and fevers burn away
Individual beauty from
Thoughtful children, and the grave
Proves the child ephemeral:
But in my arms till break of day
Let the living creature lie,
Mortal, guilty, but to me
The entirely beautiful.
Β I was struck by those last four lines in particular. I’ve thought how parenting allows the experience of learning to love the imperfect. A child is obviously undeveloped, unfinished, intemperate, and uncoordinated in so many ways. Yet they are complete for their moment of life as they are. To become more is natural and inevitable but not necessary for love.
Which is an essential skill since we are humans who love humans, so we will always love what is imperfect, imperfectly. Or as Auden said it:
You shall love your crooked neighbor,
with all your crooked heart.
You can read all of the poem LullabyΒ here. You can read As I Walked Out One Evening here.