Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Auden's "Fleet Visit"

Fleet Week in NYC: ships parked in the harbor, sailors roaming the quays, the streets, the bars. Here's a less well-known poem by Auden, "Fleet Visit," written for a very different context (which has some resonance for these days), American projection of power after World War II.

Fleet Visit

The sailors come ashore
Out of their hollow ships.
Mild-looking middle-class boys
Who read the comic strips;
One baseball game is more
To them than fifty Troys.

They look a bit lost, set down
In this unamerican place
Where natives pass with laws
And futures of their own;
They are not here because
But only just-in-case.

The whore and ne'er-do-well
Who pester them with junk
In their grubby ways at least
Are serving the Social Beast;
They neither make nor sell--
No wonder they get drunk.

But the ships on the dazzling blue
Of the harbor actually gain
From having nothing to do;
Without a human will
To tell them whom to kill
Their structures are humane

And, far from looking lost,
Look as if they were meant
To be pure abstract design
By some master of pattern and line,
Certainly worth every cent
Of the millions they must have cost.

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

OMG!!!!!! you are soo amazing. This poetry is so sexy! I have never felt this good in my life. As well, you look GREAT in your photo, like always. I love this poem. I write poetry and other men have written some for me, can you write me a poem please?

Love always,

John

Jee Leong Koh said...

Dear John,
I wish I'd written this poem. Very much appreciate you reading this blog.